BOCA RATON, Fla. – A rock star turned defense consultant and the man who has revolutionized how to run baseball teams both delivered strong messages to credit union executives about the approaches they might take to reinvent and revitalize the CU movement.
Both men addressed audiences at the COOP Financial Services THINK 12 Conference in Boca Raton on Monday, a day that conference organizers had set aside for the theme of reinvention.
(CO-OP CEO Stan Hollen discusses the evolution of THINK over the past five years in this video.)
Jeff Baxter spent years as lead guitarist with the bands Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan and then as an equipment and strategy consultant for the Defense Department.
“Essentially I see the big banks in your world as the New York Yankees in mine,” Baxter said. “They are the very big competitors with large budgets and large organizations, but credit unions are like special operations teams, smaller, more agile and motivated to make change with few resources.”
Meanwhile, Billy Beane, general manager with the Oakland Athletics, is credited with sharply changing baseball management by demonstrating that player performance statistics need to play a much larger role than emotion or tradition in making personnel decisions.
Baxter drew from both his experience as a musician and as a military consultant to demonstrate how the fundamentals of a song or military tactic can remain the same but also change. Chords can be substituted within chord groups to sharply change the sound of a song while the song's lyrics remain the same, and tactics can keep the same goals but be adapted to meet different situations.
Beane shared the lessons he learned about studying data and trusting numbers as means for making decisions instead of simply trusting in tradition and emotion as guides for decision making.
“One of the most important things I learned was that the numbers do not lie and that if you trust the numbers they will work,” Beane said.
Oakland Athletics GM Billy Beane makes a point at the THINK Conference.