“ED” Talks for Credit Unions: Cooperative Ideas Worth Spreading

TED talks are a relatively new learning paradigm. Not only have these presentations expanded in both depth and breadth, but they have even become the curriculum for educational courses.

As described on their home page, TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where technology, entertainment and design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages.

Its mission is simple: to spread ideas. “We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world. On TED.com, we’re building a clearinghouse of free knowledge from the world’s most inspired thinkers — and a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other.”

ED Talks: a Clearing House for Cooperative Thinkers

I believe there is a parallel opportunity for such a resource in the credit union cooperative community. We have both a wealth of current leaders and historical examples that can be shared to educate and inspire change similar to the TED exchanges.

An “ED” Talk: Choice and Credit Union Success

In June 1986, the savings and loan crisis was beginning to emerge into a full blown industry debacle. Among the first causalities were the private insurance options available in several states (Ohio, Rhode Island) for mutual S&Ls. The closing of these funds led to concerns about the multiple private insurance options for credit unions.

In this environment of fear, Ed Callahan spoke to the summer leadership conference of the Association of Credit Union League Executives (ACULE).

He asserted that the five years of unparalleled success since deregulation proved credit unions had created the best financial system in the country. But there was a threat.

The industry’s success was based on choices. That vital characteristic was being undermined by “panic” and a failure of leadership.

Listen to this two-minute excerpt in which he makes the case with passion and logic for why choice is central to cooperative performance.

Best System:

The Insight for Today

Throughout credit union history there have been efforts to create single source solutions. Examples include state leagues, a one-stop option for required fidelity bonds, and a dominant service bureau data processing company (CUNADATA). It is easy to confuse a single, uniform solution as the best way to achieve cooperative system.

Ed states the years of success years after deregulation enhanced choice by opening up options that are now threatened by a monopoly share insurer.

His concern about no choice of a share insurer except the NCUSIF, is certainly as critical today as 35 years ago. For if this logic continues to prevail in credit union land and beyond, a potential next easy move is to have just one federal insurer called the FDIC.

While his example was share insurance, the message would be the same for all areas of credit union solutions. For choice to be sustained, leaders will have to be willing to support options even when their own organizations may not have chosen that path.

P.s. If you have an idea to share for your own “ED” talk, please send it to me at chipfilson.com.