Creative and analytical thinking concept. Attractive woman with colorful sketch on concrete background Source: AdobeStock

As we all look to lead our credit unions to the future, we are turning to the nebulous term “innovation,” but what does that really mean? I define it for my teams as making things better today than they were yesterday, and as a result innovation can happen anywhere within our credit union. All too often, I hear from credit union leaders that they are struggling to get support for their innovation initiatives, and this comes in many forms, from no executive or board support to siloed work, competing priorities and more. My credit union has worked through many of these hurdles over the years and by overcoming them, we have been able to launch many new innovative products and services. In the past year, I had been noticing a resistance from our teams that were assigned to the innovation projects and was struggling to figure out how to move past it.

One day while reading “Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries” by Safi Bahcall, it hit me – and it was right there as the main concept of this book. In the book, Bahcall discusses the concept of “artists and soldiers,” and it is the balance between these two groups that allow companies to experience sustained greatness. In the very shortest of summaries of this concept, the “artists” are your employees who create the new products, services and experiences, and the “soldiers” are the employees who know the core of your business inside and out, honor its traditions and drive it forward steadily. The key here is the balance between these two groups. If you were to only ever focus on your core business model and never create or innovate, it may take 20 to 30 years, but you will eventually fizzle out like Blockbuster and Blackberry. On the flip side if you are just focused on creating “loonshots,” or crazy ideas, some can be very profitable like the iPhone but many can go the way of the Zune. What is needed is a virtuous cycle where the core business model provides the funding for the loonshots and the loonshots provide the innovation that keep the core business alive for another 30 years.

Complete your profile to continue reading and get FREE access to, part of your ALM digital membership.

Your access to unlimited content isn’t changing.
Once you are an ALM digital member, you’ll receive:

  • Critical information including comprehensive product and service provider listings via the Marketplace Directory, CU Careers, resources from industry leaders, webcasts, and breaking news, analysis and more with our informative Newsletters.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM and CU Times events.
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including and

Already have an account?


© 2023 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.


Credit Union Times

Join Credit Union Times

Don’t miss crucial strategic and tactical information necessary to run your institution and better serve your members. Join Credit Union Times now!

  • Free unlimited access to Credit Union Times' trusted and independent team of experts for extensive industry news, conference coverage, people features, statistical analysis, and regulation and technology updates.
  • Exclusive discounts on ALM and Credit Union Times events.
  • Access to other award-winning ALM websites including and

Already have an account? Sign In Now
Join Credit Union Times

Copyright © 2023 ALM Global, LLC. All Rights Reserved.