CUES SKYBOX BLOG

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Levers of Organizational Change

Design the work environment to support transformation. By Lisa Hochgraf “Actually changing what people do at work requires changing cues they receive from their work environment–cues they receive all day, every day, whether a leader of any stripe stands in front of them or not,” write Gregory P. Shea, Ph.D. and Cassie A. Solomon in Leading Successful Change: 8 Keys to Making Change Work. Shea presented at the first-ever summer CEO Institute I: Strategic Planning, held at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business in Philadelphia in August. According to Shea’s book, the workplace is composed of eight environmental factors that give employees cues about how to act: 1. Organization: the vertical chain of command and horizontal means of interconnection. 2. Workplace design: the layout of physical and virtual space, plus available work tools and technology. 3. Task: work processes, protocols and pathways 4. People: selection, skills, learning and orientation. 5. Rewards: rewards and punishments of every sort germane to the desired behavior, including compensation and intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. 6. Measure: scorecard of performance. 7. Information distribution: who knows what, when and how. 8. Decision allocation: who participates when, in what way, in which decisions. Each of these […]

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Where Has All the Trust Gone?

Opportunity awaits for investment and retirement services programs By Gary A. Weuve, CLU, ChFC, RFC, CPRC, CFP Sponsored by CUNA Mutual Group Does it feel to you as if no one trusts anyone any longer? Building trusting relationships with prospective and even existing members is not easy and it takes time. If your credit union offers investment or retirement services, here are a few tips to promote the process. Help your advisors get outside the office with their best clients. The current trend in client events is smaller and more intimate, which makes it easier to connect. A deep personal relationship will lead to a trusting relationship. Providing small quarterly updates for clients in the form of a coffee clutch at a local breakfast place with a meeting room can accomplish the task as well. Position your advisors as more than an investment advisor. It is going to be difficult to build trusting relationships if all your advisors are doing for their clients is building investment portfolios. Ask your advisors to spend more time understanding the concerns, desires and goals of their clients. Be sure to brand your program, and get the word out to your membership. Communicate frequently. Touching […]

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Coaching Boards to Boost CU Value

Tips CEOs can use By Jeff Rendel, CSP You’ve read about activist boards in corporate America. These boards strive to do things they believe will raise the value of the corporation. They get deeply involved in strategy and operations with a short-term focus on financial metrics. While their intent is not always to make a quick sale of the corporation, they always desire to increase its financial value. For credit unions, value is defined a little differently. It is the dollars-and-cents financial value of the relationship a member has with his CU. This could be fees saved, the higher rate paid on deposit, paying a lower rate on a loan, or getting a membership dividend. If a member can receive, say, $1,000 of value in a year, that’s a real return on membership. Members don’t get that from their banks. So increasing the value of your credit union is an important initiative. What can a credit union CEO do to promote a board committed to increasing the value of the credit union to its members? Evaluate your credit union like an activist investor. “Does this add and maximize value – and how?” is a question that should accompany every current and […]

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Marketing to Millennials

3 common-sense ideas and one possible surprise By Kait Vosswinkel Advice on capturing the attention of Millennials ranges from cool to crazy, but it’s no wonder many credit unions—with their aging memberships—are concerned. A lot of CUs are stepping in the right direction and, as a 20-something, I want to offer three bits of common sense about marketing to me. First, financial education is essential, and it can be used as an outreach tool. $1.8 billion University of Wisconsin Credit Union, Madison, Wis., sets a wonderful example of how successful financial education programs can build a young membership base. Since 1931, University of Wisconsin CU has been known for its partnership with the public university system in Wisconsin, and its average membership age is in the mid-30s, much lower than the CU average. The CU’s focus on education allows it to build long-term relationships with thousands of young adults every year. “One of our most effective approaches is the financial education that we provide to students on campus. It’s not the fact that we do it; it’s how we do it,” says CUES member Jaimes Johnson, director of community and campus relations at UW CU. “We provide education through financial specialists […]

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Delivery of Delight

Tips for the transformation of branches and remote transactions. By Sundeep Kapur “Branch transformation” is today’s big mantra for financial institutions and providing great experiences to members in branch locations is indeed one way credit unions can delight their members. Great member experiences outside the branch also count heavily into the relationship a CU will be able to build with its members. Branches are delivering delight with cool, open looks that make members feel welcome in the space. They are leveraging automation tools, such as cash recyclers that do the counting so the member service representative can converse with the member. Remember, people are the pillars of your branch. Besides leveraging automation, CUs need to empower MSRs with training and information. Your members will appreciate the expertise these staffers will then be able to offer them. But branches aren’t the be-all and end-all anymore. Some credit unions are using ATMs in non-branch locations to boost efficiency, and to offer members after-hours service in multiple languages. Be sure you are personalizing self-service delivery, whether that’s at the ATM, or with mobile or online banking. Finally, your website and online banking is kind of like having a branch right in the member’s home. Do […]

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Assisting With the New Car Call

Use these 5 questions to help your members decide if they should keep their current vehicles. By Tom Kazar Sponsored by Transamerica This week a friend of mine took his car into the shop and was told that his auto repair bill would be almost $2,000. He came to me and asked, “I love my car, but repairs are getting expensive. Should I keep repairing or cut my losses and purchase a new car?” So we began spreadsheeting and working the math to see what made more “cents.” Your members’ best interest is important, so here are some questions to ask your members to help them reveal the financial pluses and minuses before they give up on their current car and purchase something new (or new to them): Do you currently have liability or full coverage auto insurance? If the car is older, insurance premiums may be lower because the cost of replacing the car is less. If your member will be financing his next vehicle, he will need full coverage and may be paying more. Have him get a quote from his insurance company so he can gauge the price difference. How will gas consumption change? With gas prices […]

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Don’t Promote Failure; Promote ‘Experiments’

A shift in language is really a shift in thinking. By Lisa Hochgraf Kathy Pearson, Ph.D., told attendees of CEO Institute I: Strategic Planning last week in Philadelphia that senior leaders often describe to her how they want their mid-level managers to be more risk-taking and have a higher tolerance for failure. While these leaders’ underlying goal–to power more innovation in the organization–is noble, “not many organizations can move the needle with that language,” said Pearson, founder and president of Enterprise Learning Solutions and an adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, where the program was held. Pearson acknowledged that motivating innovation in an organization is a tough nut to crack. Once she thought a company she was working with had something good going in this vein. Through its “Failure University,” managers were required to post on an internal website about initiatives that had flopped. It sounded pretty good until a executive told her, “We definitely want to have an entry, but the reality is you only want one entry. You don’t want to be the frequent flyer” on the failure website. On the other hand, encouraging experimentation and having a policy of “no harm, no foul” when […]

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Overcoming Orthodoxy to Serve New Market Segments

Questions to help you look for new niches. By Lisa Hochgraf Traditional hotels have a window of time every day that’s “no new customers allowed.” Most hotels ask guests to check out in the late morning, and allow new guests to check in at 3 p.m. This gives the hotel’s housekeeping staff time to clean and otherwise ready the rooms. But hotels that follow this model can’t fully serve the guest who arrives on a morning flight and would love to take a shower before the first business meeting of the day. “Housekeeping would go crazy,” said Rob Lippert, Ph.D., in his presentation yesterday to attendees of CEO Institute I: Strategic Planning, at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School in Philadelphia. But housekeeping shouldn’t run a hotel. You can rent a car for unlimited miles or an extra half day, noted Lippert, a principal in Decision Strategies International, Conshohocken, Pa. A hotel that could find a way to change its concept of “a day’s stay” could better serve a whole new slice of the market. “That orthodoxy that started a long time ago could probably be reworked today,” he said. Lippert provided attendees of the institute these four questions to […]

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A Key Leadership Myth Debunked

Inaugural summer CEO Institute I attendees hear from an ethics expert. By Lisa Hochgraf Ever hear how leadership only exists at the top? Keith T. Darcy illustrated how life taught him this was only a myth during his presentation, “Leadership and Ethics,” yesterday during the inaugural summer CEO Institute I: Strategic Planning at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, Philadelphia. Darcy is president of Darcy Partners; an independent senior advisor to Deloitte and Touche; and executive director of the Ethics & Compliance Officer Association. When Darcy bought his first home, a small ranch in the state of New York, his 13-year-old neighbor, Allan, came to the door regularly. First, Allan got Darcy to buy the paper, which Allan delivered. Then, Allan got Darcy to sponsor Allan’s walk in the March of Dimes. Next, Allan got Darcy to sponsor him for a larger amount per mile than the previous year. Then Allan got Darcy to increase his sponsorship year after year. When Darcy moved to another home, he figured that would end the sponsorships. But Allan was on the phone, right on time the next year, asking for yet a little more for his cause. The last time Darcy saw Allan […]

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How Do You Get Ready to Learn?

Take assessments, watch a TED talk video, construct a self-portrait, set a goal. By Lisa Hochgraf In Monday’s post, I shared some strategies I’m using as I prepare to attend an in-person professional development program. (Next week I’m going to the inaugural summer CEO Institute I at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School in Philadelphia.) So I found it interesting to also be reading this week about the preparation that participants in CUES’ two inaugural “Blended Learning” courses this fall will be asked to do. For my prep to attend CEO Institute in person, I took an assessment of my “bargaining style” and downloaded a bunch of pre-reading. Plus, I looked at my flight itinerary and hotel reservation, and tried to learn something about my classmates to seed the onsite networking I’m anticipating. Interestingly, the preparation for CUES’ Blended Learning isn’t so different, even though the delivery of the program is largely virtual. The two Blended Learning courses include Cornell University faculty-led online learning; personal coaching; individual or small group work; and the creation and implementation of an action plan for participants and their CUs. Participants in “Women Who Lead” will do two brief assessments about their strengths and development […]

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Preparing for Professional Development

A CUES senior editor shares her strategies–and wants to know yours. By Lisa Hochgraf A week from today, I’ll have the privilege of reporting on CEO Institute I from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School in Philadelphia. (All three segments of CEO Institute usually run in the spring–this is the first-ever summer session, which we’ve added due to high demand.) I promise I’ll blog about the great ideas I hear from faculty and students alike, but as I prepare to go, I want to have a dialog with you about what needs to be done to get ready to make the most of professional development time. I’m going to share what I’ve been up to this week and then hope you’ll share your best practices for professional development prep in the comments. First of all, I’m taking some pauses. To think about being away and to prepare for it, I have to step back from the September issue of CU Management magazine that’s currently in production, take a break from checking on the CUES Skybox blog that just went live within CUES’ main website, and postpone (slightly) starting on the next issue of the newsletter for CUES Director Membership.These are […]

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Model World Peace on Us

A CCCU and CUES International Convention attendee’s experience. By Sandra Spence At a time when global crises abound, the recent international conference of Caribbean and North American credit unions was a welcome relief and a model of cross cultural cooperation. This June meeting in the Bahamas was the result of a joint effort of the Caribbean Confederation of Credit Unions and CUES. With the theme of “Re-Engineering Credit Unions for Success and Sustainability,” the joint conference with 800 representatives from 18 countries kicked off to a robust start. The conference’s opening ceremony was unlike any I had seen in my many years of credit union service. On the dais, the Royal Bahamas Police Force band, immaculately groomed and resplendent in their impeccable white jackets, red stripes and seamed trousers, took center stage. The flag procession commenced. Each country, in alphabetical order, from Antigua-Barbuda to Trinidad-Tobago and special guest country, the United States, walked in with its nation’s flag, escorted by a uniformed guard. Reminiscent of the Olympics’ medal ceremony, each nation’s flag was presented and placed on its spot on the stage. Each anthem, carefully composed for that nation’s independence, was lovingly played. The pageantry, sounds and swells of pride […]

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Staying in the Mortgage Game

Why and how to continue providing mortgage products to your members By Dennis F. Hardiman Many credit unions are considering exiting the mortgage business, and some have already done so. The risks of making mortgages have greatly increased, the cost to originate is at an all-time high, and new regulatory guidelines have created a more complex lending environment than ever before. Many credit unions have decided that because of those factors, the risks outweigh the rewards of offering mortgages. The challenge with exiting the lending business, however, is that members expect their credit union to offer mortgage products. Members today are more likely to shift their loyalties to a financial institution that does offer the products they want and expect. Even if a member goes to another institution only for his mortgage, the rest of his credit union accounts become at risk because that other institution will be aggressively cross-selling to your member. In a time when consumer expectations and behaviors are rapidly evolving, financial institutions must focus on creating value for their members in order to keep them–something credit unions have prided themselves on. However, credit unions are now facing a conundrum: The value and need to provide mortgage […]

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Member Communication Success Guide

With clear messaging, CUs can guide members toward what they need. By Sundeep Kapur I still cringe about how my financial institution handled the Target card breach. My first card was cancelled, a new card suddenly showed up, and every time I called to ask for information, I was told something new and different! My financial institution could (and should) have explained the breach to me on one of my visits to its website. What credit unions tell members via their websites is very important. More than 75 percent of online banking users visit their CU’s website more than a few times a month. CUs should take steps to highlight important news, make it easy to find information, and also serve up “relevant” advertising. For efficiency and for effective communication, CUs need to organize and present information well not only via their websites, but across all channels. They also have to be careful not to barrage members with sales offers all the time, or members will simply stop paying attention to their messaging. If you want to do a better job of coordinating your member communications, start with a member survey – do you know how often your members interact […]

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Brazilian Exec’s Key Takeaways from CEO Institutes I and II

By Roberto Cesar Durscki In 2013, I attended CEO Institute I at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. This year, I continued with CEO Institute II at Cornell’s Johnson School. (That’s me in the photo at the beautiful museum on the Cornell campus.) For my worklife at Sicredi, the main credit union system in Brazil with over 100 CUs, 1,200 branches, 16,000 employees and $11 billion in assets, these two segments added value in two ways: 1. Improved my ability to systematize, and made the process of plannning and deciding tangible and simple to me and my managers. At Wharton we explored a lot about the process of scenario planning and at Cornell about decision-making frameworks. Bringing those together, we were able to establish some predefined process for the decision-making at Sicredi. That is helping us avoid intuitive and biased decisions, and the risk of ignoring key variables and impacts on crucial business decisions. 2. Bettered my influencing and negotiation skills, thanks to the Cornell program. At Sicredi, I migrated from a back-office area working on credit cards to a different business area focused on core banking. This change requires me to be a strong negotiator. At Cornell this spring, we learned that […]

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Photo Tour of the Gates Foundation Visitor Center

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation manages a $40 billion endowment. The foundation focuses on strategies where it can make the biggest impact to reduce inequities around the world in the areas of health, poverty and education, developing strategies to focus on each of these areas globally and in the U.S. The foundation is focused on results and makes adjustments when a project isn’t working. The Gates Foundation Visitor Center in Seattle beautifully tells the story of the foundation’s work. Visit for just 30 minutes and you’ll leave with a clear understanding of the work being done. What does all this have to do with credit unions? Well, each year at the CUES School of Strategic Marketing I, we go on a field trip to the Gates Foundation Visitor Center. Why should credit union marketers visit the Gates Foundation Visitor Center? Like the foundation, CU marketers need to be able to align their work to their credit unions’ overall strategic goals. They need to be able to adjust when things aren’t working. And they need to measure results against goals. Plus, credit union marketers can find inspiration here at every turn. Let’s explore through these pictures from the school’s trip last week. The Foundation Family […]

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Supporting Retiring CU CEOs

By Lisa Hochgraf Over the last few years, participants in CUES Net, the CUES members-only listerve for which I serve as staff guide, have congratulated a number of “Netters” on their retirements. In addition to sending along well wishes, the CUES Net community entertained dialog about such topics as what made good retirement gifts (and the tax implications of some options) and what moving companies to use. On the occasion of his retirement in 2011, H.C. “Hank” Klein, retired CEO of now $957 million Arkansas Federal Credit Union, Little Rock, Ark., got inspired to share his experiences and insight about his retirement transition in several articles published by CUES. For example, he recommended all retiring execs meet with a professional to examine their investment options in “What Now?” from CU Management magazine. In another CU Management article, he recommended using the time available in retirement to give back to your community. He also felt it was important for boards to know what a CEO is going through during the retirement transition, so he penned a case study of his experience, “Changing of the Guard,” for CUES’ Center for Credit Union Board Excellence website. (Not yet a member? Get a 30-day free trial so you can check out Hank’s article.) […]

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Does Your Loan Program Serve Your Members?

By Brett Christensen Don’t lose sight of members’ perceptions. Not surprisingly, a credit union loan program that effectively serves members is more likely to rate well on other lending metrics, such as loan-to-share ratio, loan growth, and delinquencies. But as you lead your people through the trenches of making loans every day, it’s easy to lose sight of how members perceive your lending operation. When you’re ready to take a pause and consider this key question, here are some food-for-thought questions you’ll want to answer: Are you offering the loans your members need? If you don’t have credit cards, mortgages or business loans, you are just inviting your member to go to a competitor. And the problem with sending them to a competitor is that they might find out they like it there and not come back. What is your denial rate of consumer loans? I can make the case that this is the most important number to your members. They could care less about your return on assets, expense ratio, “misery index” (delinquency and loss ratios) or cost of funds. I think that if you are SEG-based, you should be looking at a consumer loan denial percentage of 10 percent to […]

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10 Predictions for Mobile Devices

The transition from desktop computer to handheld device has helped shape the way we communicate, share information and complete daily tasks–but what else does mobile technology have in store for us? Here are my predictions: Intelligent apps will offer personalized experiences. In 2013, services helped users collect and track their interests and behaviors, from what foods they eat to the articles they like. 2014 should see companies leverage this data to make intelligent apps provide more value to both consumers and companies–like better recommendations and actionable statistics. Phones become coaches for a healthier lifestyle. While we already have apps that track how well people have slept, how much they exercised and the calories they consumed, this year companies will combine this information to help with better decision-making. This trend will be especially apparent when combined with the growth in smartphone sensors and wearable technology. Routine chores become a game. Adding entertainment to routine activities offers a successful way to motivate people, and smartphones are well-equipped to help. More services will emerge that track your progress automatically and offer creative ways to execute goals, while offering different types of incentives.   Companies improve individualized marketing. The same data that can help […]

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Data Shows Leadership Development Pays Off

Each year since 2005, Chief Executive magazine has sought to identify those companies that excel in leadership development. This year’s top companies for leaders included P&G, IBM and General Electric. The ranking is based on five factors: 1) having a formal leadership development process in place; 2) the commitment level of the CEO to the leadership development program, as measured by the percentage of time spent; 3) the depth of the leadership funnel, as measured by the percentage of senior and middle management positions filled internally; 4) the number of other companies that report recruiting from the company being evaluated; and 5) a shareholder value/performance metric based on the 10-year change in market capitalization. Looking at that last criteria reminds us that the ultimate question for business leaders when it comes to leadership development is whether making the effort really pays off. Data from the magazine’s program this year shows that the answer is a definite yes. The top 15 percent of companies surveyed for the ranking had an average market capitalization growth of 200 percent over a 10-year period (2003 to 2013). This compared favorably to the 85 percent average market capitalization growth demonstrated by companies that ranked in […]

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Not the Granular Tech, but the Wave Effect That Matters

“Who cares what you ate for breakfast?” was my first thought when I learned about Twitter during its early days. I thought it was just me. But recently I saw a presentation by technology journalist Clive Thompson, author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing our Minds for the Better. And I was heartened to learn that Thompson had a similar reaction when he first started tracking Twitter. His corollary thought to “why would anyone care what you ate for breakfast” gave me pause. According to Thompson, it really isn’t the granular, singular description of your breakfast on Twitter that matters. It’s the collective waves and paths of thinking of many people over time that are truly interesting. He says social scientists call this effect of having insight into the larger picture of your network “ambient awareness.” “Each little update–each individual bit of social information–is, on its own, pretty insignificant, even mundane,” he writes in Smarter Than You Think. “But taken together over time, the snippets coalesce into a surprisingly sophisticated protrait of your friends’ inner lives, like dots forming into a pointillist painting.” So, I got to wondering about how this idea of “ambient awareness” might apply […]

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Member Business Banking and Shared Branches

There I was, minding my own business, scrolling through Facebook to see what I’d missed that day. Someone’s kid said something cute. Someone else ate a delicious-looking lunch. Then I saw it: A post by a local friend and small business owner about her frustration with her large, national bank. She was asking for opinions on where she should take her business (and personal) accounts. She really wanted to join a credit union. (The cooperative structure appealed to her.) But her business model includes traveling with her handcrafted wares via truck across the country to vend at large shows. She needed to be able to deposit large amounts of cash after each show before making the long drive home to Baltimore. She didn’t think it was safe to travel across the country with the amounts of cash she deals with at the events. I wondered: What about shared branching? I also wondered if the appearance of a lack of a national network of locations scared other small business owners away from credit unions. So I talked to Sarah Canepa Bang, chief strategy officer for CO-OP Shared Branching at CO-OP Financial Services, a CUES Supplier member in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. When […]

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Rate Your Board: How Well Does It Perform?

During a CUES webinar this spring, Michael Daigneault, CCD, defined four points along the spectrum of board development. Principal of Quantum Governance, L3C, Vienna, Va., Daigneault noted that he encourages credit unions to “go up the scale as much as possible,” in his role as CUES’ strategic provider of Self-Assessment for Credit Union Boards and general governance consulting. How high up is your board on the scale he describes?   Bottom rung–the dysfunctional board. A board at this stage includes a good number of directors who don’t understand their roles. Overall the board is not adding value to the credit union. CEOs have to take a firm hand in managing the work of the board, and there is no constructive partnership between the CEO and board. Second tier–the functional board. According to Daigneault, these boards meet, they talk, they chat, they ask some questions. But again, there’s a question of how much value is being added.   Third tier–the responsible board: These boards have started to ask questions, like “How can we be a more effective board?” and “How can we build a better onboarding process for new directors, a better board composition and better board meetings?” It’s an important […]

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Summer Reading for CU Leaders

One of the things I look at when choosing speakers for big CUES events is what books potential presenters have written. Here are three-sentence summaries of books by upcoming presenters that I thought were neat. Hope you’ll agree, and add them to your summer reading list–then consider hearing the speakers in person at a CUES event. Leading Change by John P. Kotter Change is inevitable for survival (think “Darwin”), but change can often be difficult, painful and slow. This is often due to the interconnectedness of things. (When you change one thing in a system, it impacts others things). Thus, change usually means changing everything (that’s why everyone needs to be involved), and it’s more than likely that you will never get complete or perfect change. Tom Flick, leadership and change expert for Kotter International, the company John Kotter founded to arm leaders to tackle the challenges of change in today’s world, will provide the opening keynote at CEO/Executive Team Network, slated for Nov. 2-5 in Amelia Island, Fla.   Breaking Banks: The Innovators, Rogues, and Strategists Rebooting Banking by Brett King In the next 10 years, we’ll see more disruption and changes to the banking and financial industry than […]

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CUES Board Walks Its Talk and Gets a Cool Outcome

Imagine you’re on the board of an art museum. A priceless collection of the museum’s art is being loaned to a hotel in Las Vegas. As a director, what do you need to know and do in response? This exercise, undertaken in much more detail by the CUES Board at its May meeting, showed that—for the most part—being a director of an art museum didn’t require knowledge of the art world. In fact, questions the museum’s directors should be asking and input they should be giving go beyond the day-to-day issues related to moving the art from one place to another. Their questions and input need to focus on the museum’s big-picture strategy and purpose. Led by Michael Daigneault, CCD, principal of Quantum Governance, L3C, Vienna, Va., (pictured facilitating another board’s session) the museum exercise was part of the CUES Board’s commitment to walking the talk when it comes to striving for excellence. The board brought in Quantum Governance, CUES’ strategic provider for board assessment and consulting, to help ensure the CUES Board itself performs at the highest level possible. The CUES Board also commissioned Quantum Governance to lead a board assessment. In doing so, the company’s staff members conducted […]

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