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Removing obstacles and driving change and innovation through an organization
July 21, 2007 BarCampBank Seattle
Pierre Burns, Manager Digital Presence, Vancity and Citizensbank
I chose to host the session on this topic in particular because I find that in my experience the biggest challenge isn't necessarily to discover the next 'thing' to do (the list is long believe me!) the challenge that we often face working within a fairly conservative industry is how to rally the organization around embracing change -- ie how to get a new idea past the corporation's immune system! 
Our group in this session was comprised primarily of web 2.0  companies and consultants (Trabian, Wesabe etc.) not Credit Union or bank representatives (I think I was the only one) so we each approached the topic from unique perspectives.
The story behind Vancity and Citizen's foray into the world of Web 2.0 was a very rewarding experience for all involved and I'm hoping by sharing this knowledge it may help others thinking or contemplating going down the same path. 
Web 2.0 seemed to be a perfect fit for our institution.  I had always been interested in member engagement and thought for sure we were sitting on a gold mine of an opportunity to extend the brand value we had and allow members to experience more of a community feeling.
The opportunity for us was to use the social web to expand beyond the singular relationship and conversation exclusively between member to credit union and unlock the potential of member to member communication.  Our critical mass of 350,000 members had a number of things in common (location, values and community) which seemed to be the perfect environment for something to bloom.  (Wesabe and others have been quick to recognize and see the value in this.)
Here are some highlights of our process and some things that helped us get to the end goal.
1. Create a shared vision and tell a story.
This is the most important place to begin, when we first began thinking of Web 2.0 at Vancity and Citizens in late 2005/beginning of 2006.
- We conducted a lunch and learn to raise the awareness internally of what 'Web 2.0' was and why it was important. 
I had been introduced to Social Signal, Alexandra Samuel and Rob Cottingham in late 2005.   They are experts in their field, check out their website www.socialsignal.com if you get a chance and you will see some of the many great projects they have been a part of. 
After meeting with them and being thoroughly impressed I invited them into Vancity to conduct a lunch and learn they really 'got' the space and on top of that culturally they were a fantastic fit.   Aside from understanding the 'Web 2.0' they took the time to really get to know everything about us as a company and spoke to us in our own language, see the  'Vancity Story' for more on this. https://www.vancity.com/MyCommunity/AboutUs/OurValues/VancityStory/
The first lunch and learn that we held was titled -  "From Communications to Community: Reaching out with the next-generation Internet"

The Overview:

Organizations can build employee loyalty, member engagement and public awareness of their brand by using the latest generation of Internet tools. Instead of focusing on one-way communications or message delivery, these new tools support rich online communities and wide-ranging dialogue. Smart businesses, agencies and non-profits are now using tools like blogs, wikis, and social networking to support internal collaboration and external engagement with members, stakeholders and the public. Reviewing their own recent projects -- and other leading cases from the field -- Alex and Rob will introduce a range of tools and examples to show how online communities can support goals as diverse as brand recognition, public education or member advocacy.


We had about 30 people attend this session from throughout the organization.  It was a hit and was very well received, generating a lot of interest and discussion.



2. Find the passionate internal champions

Soon after the the breakout session we conducted a breakout session with Social Signal with those from the session who had indicated a desire to participate in further discussions.

A recap of this session is here http://vancitymarcom.blogspot.com/2006/03/interactive-services-online-community.html on our very own internal marketing blog.


William Azaroff and Simon Crowther (from Wise Buddha http://www.wisebuddha.com/) a consultant our marketing team had engaged for our Youth Program had a great idea to set up this internal blog which would a) share info about what was happening in the web 2.0 space and b) subtlly introduce the medium to those who had not used it before.  



3. Show me the money- how to move from concept to action


From the breakout session we generated a multitude of fantastic ideas. 


We proceeded to rank these ideas on an axis in terms of perceived value and complexity and aligning the top ideas from our list to our organizational strategies and highlighted risks and mitigating factors for each idea.


Our team then started to shop the ideas around learning each time from our meetings and presentations and continuing to educate the organization about what might be possible.


We were successful in finding a sponsor in marketing as they already had a bucket of money earmarked for the 'Change campaign' https://www.vancity.com/MyMoney/AboutUs/OurChangeProducts/  and this seemed to be a perfect fit.   I'm sure there were a lot of conversations internally debating this but in the end I'm happy that our marketing team elected to take the chance and proceed with the project.


From here as you probably know William Azaroff working with Social Signal, our marketing group and our agency TBWA delivered a fantastic website called www.changeeverything.ca which continues to receive accolades today as a beacon of what Credit Unions have done using social media to engage members and extend our brand. 


I often think about what might have happend had we not had the good fortune to find an internal sponsor.  My feeling is that we would have stuck with smaller 'sandbox' trials and continued to educate the organization around what was happening out in the web. 


Now only a year later I feel that we most likely would have been pulled into the fray regardless as the social web is now a phenomenon and not a fringe play.  


Overall I feel that the internal pendulum with regard to receptiveness to change has been positively influenced towards embracing more new ideas and this shift has created a new energizing and contageous spark within the organization. 


There is no hard and fast rule for how to drive innovation that I have seen so far other than it needs to be a group effort, its much easier to make something happen when everyone is talking about it.  



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