Musings from the CU Suite

Apr 19, 2012

Three Takes on Innovation

Written by Anthony Demangone

I'm reading quite a bit about innovation these days.  While digging through my RSS "reading pile" this morning, I saw these two related articles. Well, one is a video.  

1.  Four ways to think like an innovator.  (  This short video gives four important points that will help focus your innovation.  And he quotes "the great American philosopher, Mike Tyson."  You should listen for that reason alone.

2.  The four worst innovation assassins. (  (I will say this - assassin is one of those words I hate using in a blog.) This comes from the same guy behind the post above, Scott Anthony. The article is the flip-side.  Mr. Anthony spells out four "types" of people that stifle useful innovation.

Here's a snippet:

"1. The Cowboy. Itching to create a corporate culture tolerant of creativity and innovation, the Cowboy says something along the lines of, "No boundaries! Just great ideas!" Of course, companies should continually evaluate and push their boundaries. But every company has a set of things it simply will not do. Saying innovation has no bounds when it does just leads people to waste time working on ideas that — honestly — have no hope of ever being commercialized.

Instead, consider issuing highly-focused challenges. For example, a few years ago Netflix offered a $1 million prize to any team that could improve the performance of the algorithms that determine which movies it should suggest to consumers by at least 10%. More than 250 teams rose to the challenge, and two actually exceeded the target. Focus is one of innovation's best friends."


I hope you enjoy those items.  As for me, I'm no innovation guru.  But I will say this - innovation doesn't have to be a huge idea.  Small tweaks can go a long, long way.  Exhibit one?  Steve Van Beek and NAFCU's email address.  

When Steve joined NAFCU, the email address for our compliance assistance service was  Why Regcompli?  I'm not sure.   But I'd guess email addresses once had limits regarding the number of characters.  So, regulatorycompliance was shortened to regcompliance, which was shortened to regcompli.

But no one could remember that email address. Or if they did, they misspelled it as  

Enter Steve Van Beek and a powerful question.

Why can't we simply use  The answer: We could.  And we did.  And our email contacts went up 10% as a result. 

It should be no surprise that Steve now heads our compliance services.  He also writes for one fantastic blog. 

So, here's to good questions and innovation.  And here's to you all having a great weekend!