In nature, one characteristic yields the highest probability of survival. To thrive over the long run, it is not about being the biggest, strongest, or most ruthless creature that gives you the best chance, rather, this success is determined by the ability to adapt.
Darwin linked adaptation to natural selection and survival over a century ago, and in our modern sophisticated and technologically advanced era, this dynamic ability remains a core truth to our own odds at survival. Adaptation is the key success component in the evolution of our business ecosystem, it is the basis of competing economic forces, and impacts both policies and organizational culture.
Biological theories aside, the basic economic principles of shifting demand and reactive supply indicate that, indeed, adaptation is the key metric for organizations to survive, creating a long-term evolution of business practice through elevated standards and established precedents.
For credit unions, adapting to fluctuating external variables is the way the financial service model will transcend economic rifts and consistently meet membership needs.
Initially, this adaptation is a crucial mindset for credit union leadership and staff alike – embracing change management tools and consistently seeking to improve their offerings, processes, and methodologies in the fueling embrace of community financial service.
Implementing an organizational environment which is open to adaptation is earmarked by cultural seeds of open innovation and continuous education. Conversely, closed innovation systems are as effective as a fire drill after an arson event – counterintuitive and neglects the sole purpose of preparation. For credit unions to embrace adaption in the face of adversity, then the concept of change needs to be a welcomed and uncollateralized improvement. By eliciting a credit union culture where experimentation is encouraged and change is not feared, the organization has their foundational strength in identifying and enacting adaptations to their people, processes, and technologies, in a timely and efficient manner.
Once this evolutionary mindset is adopted across the organization, fast responses to changing ecosystem variables become frequent and feel comfortable. This is the full embrace of the continuous improvement mantra, where change signals an opportunity to improve, and for credit unions, this means watching for signals in demand shifts, from changing or new membership behaviors, to changes in operational measures, all while keeping an eye on substitute firms and their diversification of both services and methodologies.
This adaptation threads elasticity into the fibers of the credit union from a foundational level, allowing for quick response to sudden changes while mitigating poor outcomes by shifting resources and focus elsewhere. Using your credit union specific core values to steer the organization, these evolutionary improvements compound the validity of your core mission, unifying staff and serving memberships in the process.
What began as a conscious decision to meet changing user preferences with virtualizing service, digital transformation has now become the necessary means to elicit remote service pathways and reach members regardless of psychical constraints. If a credit union was not already in this adaptation process before, they have been thrust into the digital evolution.
The Service Evolution is upon us, transforming the way credit unions fulfill their purpose. Adaptation is happening all around us as we ride this economic and social wave together, and plot how we elevate our service standards. This is the power of glorious, subconscious, adaptation, and this is how credit unions will overcome our environmental challenges. Darwin would be proud.

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