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Michael Porter, a Harvard Business School professor, is generally recognized as the best analyst and most articulate proponent of business strategy. He essentially articulates at the academic level why the credit union model is a successful one, and how we can sustain that success in the future by protecting and enhancing credit union unique activities and differentiations in the market place. I mention this because I believe Porter’s teachings have great relevance to credit unions, both the movement as a whole, as well as individual credit unions. For example, Porter argues: “To be successful, organizations must have strong leaders willing to make choices and define trade-offs. And to weigh the thousands of ideas which pour in from employees, customers (members), vendors, etc.” I would add, and to those many ideas from credit unions brainstorming or dreaming, and from credit union boards of directors, from pundits on the speaker circuit, and from publishers in the trade press. But, “99% of all this input is inconsistent with an organization’s strategy.” Porter feels that great leaders can see and focus on the 1% that makes sense as they attempt to make sure everyone understands the strategy, and make sure that the thousands of activities in an organization are aligned in the same direction. I expect no less of CUNA, Leagues and NAFCU as they weigh the various bright or dumb ideas, articulate or heartfelt opinions, special interests and noises in the credit union movement. It is by working together that we will find the valuable 1% nuggets from time to time which can make all credit unions more competitive (more unique), enhance our shared credit union brand, improve our operational efficiencies, and/or improve our competitive advantages in the marketplace for financial services. The continuing refinement, sorting and selecting from the “Renaissance” process is totally consistent with the good leadership described above. It is also why I feel that the criticisms by Credit Union Times publisher Mike Welch are just dumb, as is his endorsement of a splitting apart of NCUA and NCSIF. But that’s OK because we don’t expect or hold the trade press to be our great thinkers or leaders. Instead, their role is to serve the purpose of circulating the thousands of ideas, documenting experiments, and stimulating debate. It is up to the guardians of the credit union movement who, as Porter puts it, must “provide the discipline and the glue that will keep our unique position sustained over time.” John M. Tippets President & CEO American Airlines Federal Credit Union Fort Worth, Texas

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