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David Zach Prepares Credit Union Leaders for the Future

by Catalyst Corporate | Jul 11, 2017

For credit unions to succeed, leaders must be curious about everything.

“Be curious about the future of healthcare. Of manufacturing. Of transportation,” said futurist David Zach. “If you’re only thinking about the future of credit unions, your credit union will not last.”

Zach is presenting An Owner’s Guide to the Future at Catalyst Corporate’s 40th annual Economic Forum, October 2-4 at the Omni Mandalay Hotel in Las Colinas, TX.

“Two dominant forces are at the center of the economy,” he said. “Creativity and logistics – in other words, how we create and how we organize what we create. The successful credit union of the future is going to have to be seen as a logistics organization, but must also operate in the realm of creativity.” Curiosity has to play a vital role, he adds.

Take 3-D printing, for example. Designers are already showing ways to print the walls of a house. How will this affect the housing market, and how will that affect credit unions?

“In about 10 years, we might be able to print the wall with the wires and the pipes already inside of it,” said Zach. “It’s very possible that more than 50 percent of the jobs that exist today might be done by a machine over the next 20 years. If credit unions aren’t thinking and worrying about this, they’re toast.”

While Zach sees curiosity as a driving force for future success, he also explains how credit unions need to differentiate fads from trends and principles in order to make the right choices going forward.

“Think of it this way,” he said. “Fads are like the waves on the water. They rock the boat. Trends represent the currents. They move the boat. But ultimately, you need the principles of sailing through the changes to correctly navigate your path toward your goals.”

In the credit union world, trends cross time and may not yield immediate results. Credit union trends sometimes influence gaining or losing members and gaining or losing assets, he noted. Automation, as illustrated by the 3-D printing example, is a trend to watch, he said. “Credit union leaders need to have a better grasp of this.”

In contrast, credit union principles transcend time. “They’re always going to be considered truth, even if we ignore them,” he adds.

Fads can be used as spices to make trends more appealing to members, to draw their attention to the right things.

To prepare for the future, Zach offers interesting advice: “Stop reading so much ‘news,’ and start reading more ‘olds.’” News is about change, he says. And while monitoring change is good, the lifespan of a news story is hours, if not minutes.

On the other hand, “‘olds’ is information that hasn’t changed since yesterday, that you may need to know to be successful,” he said. “We’ve become too dismissive of anything that isn’t new, when ‘olds‘ is the information that makes up most of the world.”

Another step credit union leaders must take to insure a successful future is reaching out to millennials – possibly in a different way.

“No group has been more heavily marketed to than millennials,” he said. Because of this, millennials are now wary of marketing.

“If you want to build rapport with millennials, you need to show up where they show up,” Zach said. “Rather than try to approach them face to face, approach them side by side. Look at what they’re seeing. Stand where they’re standing. Try to see the world through their eyes by looking at what they’re looking at.”

“You’re never going to fool a millennial into thinking someone in their 40s or 50s thinks they same way they do,” he adds. “But if you can show up, shut up and listen up, you will learn a lot from this growing population. It all depends upon what you do with your attention.”

To hear more from Zach and other thought leaders, attend Catalyst Corporate's Economic Forum. Register at http://www.catalystcorp.org/r/forum.

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