Go ahead, get weird

What’s your best crazy CU idea?

Crazy ideas are a great way to stretch your thinking for any project or problem.

When we’re building a shiny new credit union website, my favorite question to ask is something like this:

“What’s your biggest, craziest, blue-sky, out-of-left-field idea for your credit union’s new website?”

Sure, sometimes you get some tacky ideas, like a little animated CEO roaming around the home page telling members where to click (this is actually possible, just a terrible thing to inflict on your members). And sometimes you get ideas that wouldn’t be possible without mind-reading, time travel and an Act of Congress.

Quite often the ideas are big but not crazy at all – “What if everything on our site was also available in Spanish?” Sure, we can work with professional translators to build a bilingual site.

And we love to ask this when we’re working on a credit union brand:

“What’s your favorite story about ‘breaking the rules’ to help a member?”

Ooh, so naughty! Of course, credit union people always color inside the lines. But the answers to this question are a great way to understand the heart, soul and culture of a credit union. What are people so passionate about that they’re willing to take actual personal risks, and even tell stories? And what kinds of risks are “OK”? What’s the management attitude toward risk, gray areas, and rule-bending? What rules are unwritten but considered law?

The power of wacky what-ifs

The point is, those big, weird, rule-breaking, or blue-sky ideas always contain important insights into what’s really important to the people, brands, and cultures involved.

Working on a long-term strategy, or new product ideas, or marketing car loans? Start with something simple, outrageous, and out-there.

What cultural “rules” can you break? Even if you could never in a million years start a dog-walking CUSO, think about why the idea came up, and maybe you’ll find a different way to understand or solve a member problem. Maybe that line of thought could lead to a nifty youth business checking product aimed at young entrepreneurs (feel free to steal that idea, by the way).

Wackifying ideas is also a great way to think about the unthinkable:

  • What if you totally eliminated overdraft fees?
  • What if you charged a yearly membership fee like a warehouse club?
  • What if you replaced most of your branches with a fleet of mobile member centers in vans?

Crazy… but what if, really?

Go ahead, get weird

So go ahead – speak the unspeakable, think about the unthinkable. You hereby have my permission to go a little crazy.

Step outside your CU’s culture, take a walk on the freaky side, bend some rules (or at least think about it) and see where it takes you.

What’s your best crazy CU idea?


Brian Wringer

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