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  • Ian McCain

The Power of Collaboration: Why the Credit Union Philosophy of "People Helping People" Works So Well.

a group of people with their hands together in collaboration

In a world where businesses often operate in silos, fiercely guarding their processes and viewing all other entities in the marketplace as "competitors", credit unions stand out as a shining example of the power of collaboration. Oddly, this isn't part of some well crafted operational strategy, but rather the unique approach is a fundamental part of a credit union's mission: "People Helping People." It's built into the fabric of how they operate. If you are part of a credit union, you are probably nodding your head in agreement, but for those readers that are unfamiliar with what makes Credit Unions so unique, allow me to explain.


A Unique Culture of Collaboration

One of the most remarkable aspects of credit unions is their willingness to reach out to each other for help. Whether they are evaluating new tools, initiatives, software or vendors - one of the first places they will turn to for insights, is another credit union.


Think about that for a moment. Can you imagine that happening in any other industry?


Can you picture Comcast contacting AT&T to get feedback on how their new fiber network is working or Pepsi reaching out to Coca Cola because they are looking at implementing a new bottling practice. Moreover can you imagine either place welcoming into their facility to share operational insights.


Typical businesses keep their innovations and strategies closely guarded to maintain a competitive edge, while credit unions prioritize collaboration over competition. This culture of mutual support helps them collectively improve their services and strengthens the entire industry in a variety of ways.


Mutual Support and Shared Knowledge

Because most industries see their counterparts as rivals, they often keep their knowledge and best practices under wraps, because operating is viewed as a sort of zero-sum game, however, credit unions operate on a different principle. They understand that by sharing knowledge and best practices, they can create a stronger, more resilient community. Their goal is to serve their community and members. This spirit of cooperation allows them to more collectively face challenges and seize opportunities, providing mutual benefits to all members involved.


The Ripple Effect of Collaboration

The collaborative nature of credit unions has sprawling positive benefits that align perfectly with their mission of "People Helping People." By working together, credit unions can:


  • Enhance Member Services: Shared knowledge and collaborative efforts lead to improved services for members, ensuring they receive the best possible experience. Rising tides raise all ships, and by sharing what would otherwise be completely siloed experiences, the industry as a whole benefits.

  • Drive Innovation: By more openly discussing strategies and demonstrating platforms, credit unions can stay at the forefront of technological advancements, ensuring they are always offering the latest and most efficient solutions.

  • Strengthen the Industry: Collaboration leads to a more robust and united industry, capable of withstanding economic challenges and regulatory changes. This collective strength ensures that credit unions can continue to serve their members effectively.

  • Promote Financial Inclusion: By sharing successful strategies and technologies, credit unions can better reach underserved communities, promoting financial inclusion and helping more people achieve financial stability.

  • Improved Vendor Accountability: Vendors and service providers cannot isolate experiences. Because Credit Unions in general are more willing to speak with each other, there is no way to isolate experiences. Credit Union's more freely discuss their individual experiences providing candid exchanges and views that aren't filtered through a vendor's marketing efforts. As a result vendors have to provide consistent positive experiences, there is no way to silo an unhappy customer and as a result the general level of customer experience must remain consistent and positive.


The collaborative ethos of credit unions is inspiring and though it may not be a viable strategy in all industries, I can't help but feel that it would be nice if more industries could adopt the perspective of "People Helping People."

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