• Fred Kelly

Bill's Rule Applies to Credit Unions Too

Have you ever seen the TV show Grand Designs? Presenter Kevin McCloud shares the journey as people build their dream home. The process always starts with an amazing design. First in their head then, with the help of an architect, on paper. The show doesn’t start with what kind of tools they will use or how big an excavator they will need. That’s why it’s called Grand Designs.



However, too often, we see the opposite approach being used in credit unions. They start with the tools - the technology - and then see what the technology allows them to build. I once saw a bank where the IT department had designed the process around the software. They loved it!


Everyone else was frustrated by the impracticality of the process and its limitations. The cries of “the system won’t let us” were still echoing across the office as customers took their business elsewhere.


Why does this happen?

Technology is a tool. Technology vendors understandably want to sell more of their product. As great salespeople do, they tell you the problem you have and how their software will solve it.


The issue is that, unless you have spent time really understanding the problem and what result you want, you are not yet ready to buy. As Einstein said “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I spend more time on the problem”. Problems are the foundations of great solutions.


Vendors are not the enemy here. They are often enormously helpful and great resources, but they should never design your process end-to-end. Their thinking will be constrained by the functionality of their software, and they don’t own the problem - you do!.


“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I spend more time on the problem” - Albert Einstein

The second reason is that your processes will probably require optimization. Even the best processes, like an engine, become less efficient over time. Processes need regular maintenance. Very few people relish wading through processes which is why too many credit unions practice “breakdown maintenance”.


In fact, process mapping is incredibly rewarding, a bit like getting an aching splinter out of your finger. Everybody benefits from great processes.




Bill Gates summed it up perfectly in his two rules of automation:


“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.”

So like Grand Designs, start with the outcome you want, your dream credit union, then draw up the plans and, finally, figure out what technology can help you bring life to the process.


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