Innovation Skills Project Update

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MDC is taking a deep dive into innovation as an active initiative for the benefit of our credit union owners. Our goal is to bring innovation tools to owners—and, in return, catalyst our network into becoming more advanced and knowledgeable in this space.

Where We Are Today

We have researched many innovation vendor options with the goal of eventually choosing one as a recommendation for our owners. We plan to loop in an advisory team made up of our credit union owners soon to help drive further direction and decisions during this process.

Where We Were

We have come a long way in this project—in taking a look back, you will find that we have completed:

1.) Secondary research: Top books, websites, academic journals, whitepapers, webinars, and publications, were reviewed and summarized into a document of up-to-date, state of the art findings on the status of Innovation in today’s marketplace. To view this document, visit MDC Connect.

2.) In-depth phone interviews: Twelve interviews were conducted with three key segments:

-MDC CU leaders

-Innovation leaders in various companies outside of banking

-The nature and offerings of industry suppliers (consultants, educators, innovation management software) that could potentially assist MDC with future deliverables

Each interview investigated: the participant’s history overall, their experience with innovation as a discipline, current attitudes towards innovation, and their           outlook/philosophy on the future of innovation in business. The interviews were also tailored to examine each participant’s subject matter expertise in-depth and their specific point of view. Select experts were invited to participate in an innovation panel discussion at the 2016 February Owner Meeting.

3.) Innovation Audit: We also conducted an innovation audit of our owners to analyze current practices and see which gaps we may capitalize on. After breaking down the audit results we were able to identify a significant opportunity to help our credit union owners in this space.

4.)  Analysis of existing innovation programs: We found that many existing programs are very focused on a certain tool (e.g., design thinking) or one-time education for a single attendee from a credit union. Attendees—while finding the conferences valuable—expressed difficulty in truly effecting change upon return to their organizations. When talking with our owners about their needs around developing innovation skills, we identified two areas that are not being addressed by existing training programs:

  • Building a culture of innovation. What does that look like?
    • CEO and board drive innovation
    • Strategy and innovation are linked
    • Human and financial resources are dedicated to innovation
    • Innovation is viewed as everyone’s job
  • Implementing innovation tools. What does that look like?
    • Tools should be able to be implemented across the credit union (beyond just those who attend an innovation course)
    • Provide structure and a repeatable process to make innovation easier
    • Needs to move beyond just “new product” innovation
    • Has to include metrics
    • Has to include the ability to leverage member data

So far, this project has been challenging, insightful, and really exciting. Stay tuned to hear more about our progress. If you have any questions or comments, please contact