A Coop Veteran on Opportunity

Randy Karnes led CU*Answers and its affiliates for over 25 years as CEO.   Combining network strategy in the Internet era with cooperative design was critical to the CUSO’s strategy.

He has stepped back from the CEO’s role and is heading to retirement.  He continues to share thoughts on what makes credit unions and CUSO’s successful.

Seeing Opportunities Within and Without

How do leaders rally their teams to moments of opportunity? Drive themselves to see others’ initiatives in a system as part of their own?

There have been times when inventorying the business problems in a marketplace was the right play to call out opportunity.  But when defining problems becomes more debilitating than inspiring as opportunities you have to change gears. 

This is a market of opportunity for employees and professionals – to open their eyes to the chance to be more.

Show everyone around you how to engage for opportunity, that they are the solutions and entrepreneurs with spirit.  Engage…..and corporate tricks like mergers, re-organization, and internal gambits will be far less inviting.  Engage your team one task at a time and watch your confidence in the way forward grow.

In my entire career I have never seen a marketplace so ready to reward people who are simply positive about the opportunity all around them. 

Cooperative Governance and Advisory Boards

Cooperative Business Designs and the drive for customer-owner governance:

Can 7 directors  (CU or CUSO) be seen as credible for 100,000 customers, 12-24 business lines, multiple product/service distinctions, and the intensity for cooperative passion? 

Our niche (cooperatives and credit unions) doubt it every day in pushing back against our competitive model.   But do we push back with actionable and tangible examples that overcome the issues?

There is a reason that Jim Blaine (SECU) had nearly 300 advisory boards – perception matters – the design and the faces of governance matter.  That is fundamental to a network’s success.  Our governance should be a meaningful platform for our competitive advantage and distinction.

This is not to say that there is a size limit for cooperatives. Rather this is to say that scaling governances, delineating the passions applied, and marketing customer-owner leadership closer to the delivery of the value, are the key to everyone’s seeing that cooperatives are different, no matter the size.


One Reply to “A Coop Veteran on Opportunity”

  1. What a great way for a governing board to get first hand feedback on what the members want the organization to achieve. Focus groups and member surveys are a part of the process, yet it seems like the advisory board is full time as opposed to part time efforts. The problem I have seen with advisory boards is they don’t actually govern when being on a board implies governing to many people. There are ways to make an advisory board feel valued, and I bet Jim figured that out. Maybe instead of advisory board they might be called an advisory committee. The function is the same.

    Steve Winninger

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