15 October 2008

CU Dream Teams

Say Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, or some other filthy rich dude decided to create a credit union as their next charitable project. Their approach would be simple: collect the best talent the industry has to offer, and back them with all the capital necessary for that “dream team” to establish the perfect credit union.

Would it work?

Let’s look at the New York Yankees for clues. Their approach for as long as I can remember has been to buy as much talent every off-season so they have All-Stars at every position, and an ace throwing every pitch. In the mid- to late-nineties this worked like a charm. Every year, it seemed Joe Torre, Derrick Jeter, and Mariano Rivera were being joined by an amazing cast of talented (and highly-paid) free agents. And every year, it seemed the New York Yankees were winning 100 games and going to the World Series.

Fast forward to the last 5-6 years. The Yankees’ strategy is still the same. They keep building the best team money can buy. Names like Mussina, Clemens, Giambi, and A-Rod have all come aboard, but the winning ways have for the most part gone away.

No help there.

Let’s look at Hollywood, then. Have you ever seen a “dream team” cast work? I have. But for every Oceans 11, The Godfather, or Casino, there’s an Insomnia, Get Shorty, Wild Hogs, The Royal Tenenbaums, or Batman & Robin.

No help there, either.

How about music? The Traveling Wilburys and The Highwaymen were good, but didn't enjoy lasting success. They certainly didn't prove that the whole was greater than the sum of their parts, anyway. Each of the artists in those collaborations were much more successful individually. Bands like New Edition and Temple of the Dog further proved that sometimes star performers are better separate from each other.

So what gives?

To me, it all boils down to grouping the right superstars with the right roles with the right mission. Just throwing a lot of money and a lot of talent at a problem doesn't guarantee success. I don't think you can just cast a net, gather a ton of talent and expect to be successful. You need to make sure that they are all working toward the same goal, don't have excessive overlaps in specific talents, and are placed in the appropriate chairs with which they can make the biggest difference.

Here's the deal. The talent you should be looking for wants to be around other talent. They want to be a big part of something big. They want to know that their passion to manifest the highest levels of effort, imagination, and teamwork are matched only by their co-workers' energy in the same regards. They want to be compensated for their efforts, don't get me wrong, but they don't want to be unjustly rewarded. These people truly want to earn their paychecks - and want to continuously improve upon their standards of living through well-deserved pay increases.

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays are proving as we speak that chemistry goes a long way. One player on the Yankees (A-Rod) makes more money than the entire Devil Rays squad. They succeed by minimizing egos, and maximizing performance. And I will bet my bottom dollar that they will reward their players to the best of their ability (however limited). Can your CU do the same thing? Can your CU build an effective Dream Team? An All-Star at every position, working toward a common goal, excited to be a part of something special. That's my dream...and it should be your CU's dream, too.


Ashli Moore said...

This is great perspective and your correlation to the Rays puts Credit Union's in perspective. Realizing that having the "Big Guns" doesn't have to mean having the "Big Money" is critical in this economic situation and I think it is just another thing that we can use to show our members that we are just people too.

Andy said...

Awesome post Matt. I love your point on chemistry. You can get all the most talented people in one place, but what really matters is if they work well as a team.

Also, I loved The Royal Tenenbaums, how dare you! :)

Matt, the Credit Union Warrior said...

@ashli I hope I didn't jinx the D-Rays...they let one slip away from them just after I wrote this! :(

@andy If you could find a way to combine talent with that chemistry, you have a true winner. The organizations that have been able to pull that off have something special - something of which CU's who truly want to improve themselves should take note.