Yesterday Kelly Evans, a CNBC host, reported a meeting last week between Elon Musk and the senior management team at Volkswagon. And no, it had nothing to do with merger or buying technology. Here is the opening of her story:
Here’s a headline that should stop you in your tracks: “Tesla’s Musk dials into Volkswagen executive conference.” My first thought, when I saw this, was that it must have been either some kind of quirky Elon Musk prank or a weird fluky accident.
But it was neither. It was, in fact, an invitation by the CEO of Volkswagen for Musk to address a meeting of 200 top Volkswagen executives in Austria, in order to “galvanize [their] top brass for a faster pivot to electric vehicles,” according to Reuters. I’m sorry, what?! Can you imagine, circa 2015, “Microsoft invites Adobe CEO to talk about transitioning to the cloud,” or today, “Facebook invites TikTok CEO to talk about their success in short-form videos and algorithms.” Or maybe, “Jacksonville Jaguars invite Patrick Mahomes to talk about success on offense.”
Anyhow, Volkswagen’s CEO, Herbert Diess, confirmed his invite and Musk’s “surprise” Thursday video appearance on Twitter and LinkedIn. “Happy to hear that even our strongest competitor thinks that we will succeed [in] the transition if we drive transformation with full power,” he wrote. You have to give Diess credit. He sounds like a disgruntled CEO who sees the future but can’t pivot his company fast enough, and is now pulling out all the stops to get there–including inviting his “strongest competitor” to give his own employees a pep talk.
How did this happen? How could the CEO of the world’s largest automaker for much of the last decade be calling a company that won’t even deliver a million cars this year his “strongest competitor”?
The Credit Union Analogy
Would your credit union’s success be such that a bank or other financial institution (mutual fund, insurance firm or broker dealer) would invite you to share your vision for the future of financial services?
Or, is the bank just inviting you over to see if you would like to buy them out at a multiple of book value?
Unfortunately, banks are unlikely to ask for an Elon-Musk kind of briefing thinking they there is little to learn from credit unions. They believe coop success is due to an uneven playing field, especially the tax exemption.
A good test of how your competitors, local and otherwise, view your effectiveness is not the dollars they spend lobbying, but rather whether they seek to emulate your credit union’s perceived advantage.
Unlike Volkswagen, I have not heard of any banks trying to become credit unions in practice or by conversion. But I read a lot about credit unions buying banks.
Which model do you think has the real competitive edge? And which is most likely to transform financial services as they exist today?
When competitors respect you, then you know you are doing something special in their eyes.
Even when interest in your business initiatives are only from your co-op peers, that is one indication that your credit union could be “driving transformation with full power” using Elon’s criteria for strategic advantage.