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I spent time in Scottsdale, Ariz., last week at CO-OP’s THINK 2010 conference. CO-OP didn’t become the largest CUSO by accident, and credit unions could take a lesson or two from the organization.

At the event, CO-OP announced its THINK Prize: $10,000 for the most innovative and replicable idea that will have the greatest impact on credit unions. It has partnered with Filene to choose three finalists who will share their ideas at THINK 2011, and the conference attendees will vote for the winner. With this one effort CO-OP is spawning innovation that’s not a one-and-done deal; encouraging collaboration among credit unions; doing their own collaborating with Filene; fostering a sense of community with the audience voting; and putting its money where its mouth is. In addition, CO-OP has committed to funding a position to expand opportunities for credit unions to support Children’s Miracle Network. CO-OP is not only making a smart business move to invest in the industry that supports it, but it’s also striving to create something bigger than itself.

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