From the Old Cookie Jar to the New Operating System

By Frank J. Diekmann

Diekmann Frank

It’s common for prosecutors to say of someone charged with embezzlement from a company or credit union that they used a business as their own “personal cookie jar.” That’s not fair in the case of a New York credit union, as it significantly underplays where their hands were caught, if allegations being made by authorities are true. In this case, it was allegedly one former CEO’s personal bakery.

Want to know more about just how much baking was allegedly taking place (free residences, NFL suites, travel, limo rides for friends and family)? Then go here.

Observations Worth Repeating

Meanwhile, as we clear out the summer beach bag, here are some observations shared with various CU audiences this year you might want to consider as you head into your 2019 (and beyond) strategic thinking:

Understand You Are Doing Meaningful Work’

“Every organization, and especially your organizations, have things to talk about. You are meaningful in people’s lives. Even on the bad days you should have an understanding of why you are doing meaningful work,” said Chip Heath of the Stanford Graduate School of Business.“You all can be makers of moments,” Heath continued. “You can engineer them. You are involved in people’s most important moments in their life. How many of those things are celebrated? Does a branch manager show up with a deed when you finally pay off a mortgage? You are in a position to celebrate these meaningful moments. For instance, you could send a note to a young saver who achieves his or her rainy day fund.”

‘Sometimes, Old School Works’

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Pondering allowing more employees to work from home as a way of recruiting/retaining staff, or even cutting costs. Hold on just a moment before telling the staff they can kill their commutes. 

“If you actually want to get the most out of people and make sure they are solving problems and being collaborative, you need to give them a physical location where they are working together,” said futurist Mike Walsh. “I know it sounds counterintuitive, but IBM found when it looked at its most disruptive projects, they were driven by people collocated in one location. Sometimes old school works.”

About Your Reputation

For a number of reasons the “reputations” of large organizations and institutions, including government, have been sliding in the view of an increasingly jaded public. 

In Ireland this year, the country’s credit unions recently were ranked highest in reputation in the annual Reputations Study. But here’s what Niamh Boyle, managing director with the Reputations Agency, said has been taking place, as reputation scores rose in Ireland this year, while scores in major global markets such as the U.K. and U.S. declined for the first time since the end of the recession, with a growing crisis of trust globally, and organizations increasingly judged on aspects of morality and ethics. 

In Ireland, she said, positive economic indicators such as exports, GDP, FDI, wages, and consumer spending have helped to build trust, respect, esteem, and good feeling towards organizations. 

The New Operating System

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“Amazon, Google and Apple want to own your customer. The Internet of Voice is the new operating system. The future of computing is the OS of the voice,” said Nicholas Webb, the author of numerous books, including “What Customers Crave” also the holder of 45 patents on a variety of technologies, told credit unions.

Later, Webb told CUs, “We are all in the Internet business. Your digital properties should be value dispensers. It should be relevant and valuable.”

Avoid the Love, Avoid the Cost

When it comes to competing on deposits and operating margins, economist Dr. Elliot Eisenberg recently told credit unions, “Firms have money. Tax cuts have happened. Consumers are spending. Net interest margins for banks is going up. Banks are happier than you; they can screw their depositors.”

Not What I Meant, But…

In one of those Freudian slips that occur only when you’re in front of a large group, an audience member at the CUNA CFO Council annual meeting asked NCUA’s Tracy Bombarger about the 18% cap on credit cards for FCUs, to which Bombarger replied, “I know that we cannot get rid of the crap.”

Frank J. Diekmann is Cooperator in Chief at and can be reached at or @FrankCUToday.

Section: Standard
Word Count: 1059
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Copyright Year: 2019
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