Credit Union Geek

Marketing, Strategy, and The Force by Joe Winn

Tag: mars (page 1 of 2)

What Are Your Martian Waters?

Originally published on

In case you didn’t hear, we found water on Mars. No, not those waters. Liquid, flowing water! You’re allowed to be amazed. It isn’t mountain stream fresh, nor is it warm beach salty, rather, it’s a combination of salts and other dissolved molecules which reduces its freezing temperature.

Basically, Mars is cold, and water as we recognize it would be ice. The lesson from the Doctor stands: Don’t drink Martian water.

So how did we find the evidence? It’s not like there was a giant ocean which we all happened to miss for decades…right? (No, we didn’t miss an ocean) We just had to know where and how to look. And time.

You may not have a Curiosity rover or Mars Global Surveyor at your credit union branch (I’m looking at you, NASA FCU), but you do have something even more valuable for your institution…staff! And they’re always on the front lines: observing, learning, engaging.

The water on Mars has been there since far before we ever started looking. We only found it after years of observations from a fleet of rovers and spacecraft. It’s that way with your credit union opportunities as well.

Joe’s speaking space geek again and it doesn’t make any sense.

Alright, let me explain. Your credit union runs day to day much as it always has. Small improvements here and there, but the basic idea remains consistent. Perhaps your credit union has been looking for opportunities and never realized how many existed. Maybe your older members are looking for help with online banking. Only problem, you run sessions as web meetings, which they’re uncomfortable with also. Perhaps this, alongside the regular education you perform, can be run as an off-site class. Did anyone notice that one of your new members owns a favorite restaurant in town with great private rooms? Your research will uncover more opportunities, just as looking deeper turned up water which has been there for millions of years.

It was only through super high resolution observations over a long period of time that NASA scientists came to the present conclusion. It’s time to look at your credit union, its members, and services offered with the same detail.

A fellow writer for the credit union industry brought up an important point about exposing opportunities. Bo McDonald (@yourmarketingco) wrote on CU Insight (yes, the same publication where this content ends up) about asking CU staff if they are active members. It seems obvious. Your staff use your services. Duh, one could say. Except, they often don’t. And the reasons why could expose many more opportunities for improvement! The largest being…no one asked!

Our space probes conduct research all over the universe. But it takes scientists pouring over the data to come to any conclusions. You’re the scientists for your credit union. Talk to your members, chat with your staff. Anytime a discrepancy comes up, ask why! And find your Martian waters!

Image credit:

Stalking a Comet

Update: This post relates to the comet flyby in October of Siding Spring past Mars.  Earlier today, the Philae lander flying on Rosetta (a European Space Agency mission) made a soft landing on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.  A first for humans, we look forward to the science data and imagery Philae will return.

Call it an interstellar flash mob.

A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity arose in October for astronomers. In 2013, a comet was seen hurtling towards the Sun. Not too surprising, as many do just that in the course of their orbits. Except this one was different. We hadn’t seen it before. And it came from far away. Scratch that, very, very far away.

Comets we see come from the Kupier Belt. Imagine a mish-mash of rocks and debris in the general area of Pluto. But not this one, now called Comet Siding Spring, after the observatory from which it was discovered. Siding Spring came from the Oort Cloud, a favorite name from my childhood (thank you Dutch astronomer Jan Oort), but also a special region of space. If you think the Voyager spacecrafts have gone far, picture this: The Oort Cloud is a thousand times further away than them, and they’ve been flying for over 35 years. The cloud has material from the birth of our solar system, and Siding Spring has not come close to the sun…ever.

So this comet is on a long journey.

There’s more! Projections of Siding Spring’s path took it into, no, past Mars…so close that it would interact with the upper Martian atmosphere. It’s like a ball whizzing through the hairs on your neck.

Hold your rockets…we have stuff at Mars! Could we perchance take a peek as it goes by? Also, our satellites above Earth. And observatories here, too! Don’t forget Hubble! Gee, that would take a lot of coordination. It’s good NASA handles all of them…oh wait, they don’t? Other countries? How many years did you say we had again?

On October 19th, Comet Siding Spring zoomed past Mars at a few dozen miles per second (relative speed). Every craft and rover at Mars was in position to catch observations, from Curiosity and Opportunity on the surface, to Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, to Mars Express, to the new arrival, MAVEN. Additional observations were made from Earth-based telescopes and dozens of spacecraft. Everyone coordinated for a unique event and delivered!

If asked, could you gather together your team, as well as others from different institutions, and work towards a single goal with only a few week’s notice?

NASA, ESA (European Space Agency), and many more made it happen. The next time an Oort Cloud comet comes toward your CU, will you be ready?

Image credit: Siding Spring Observatory, James Willinghan:

Paralyzed By Perfect

Recent posts have approached the idea of “getting things done” from a variety of angles.  Progress with Tedium analyzed how a detailed strategy, then following those plans to the letter, might make for boring summer blockbusters, but a completed task.  Plan Well Now to Execute Later looked at MAVEN on its way to Mars.  It also realized the value of getting your spaceship’s flight path set ahead of time.  Arriving with less frustration, fewer adjustments, and more fuel makes everyone happy.  Waiting, Done Different sought to understand how Apple decides when is the right time to engage a new product segment or idea. Being first isn’t always best, and being best might mean you are last.  What’s the happy medium?  Who’s Your Imagineer and R&D…Not Just for Tech Firms combined the strategies of Disney and Apple for advice on ensuring innovation and eliminating stagnation in your processes/operations.

Whew!  That’s a lot of reading and even more planning.  Guess it’s time to set up another meeting…hold your horses!

There’s an enemy lurking, and it disguises itself so well, we might miss it even when it’s staring us down: Perfection.

You may have heard the phrase, “practice makes perfect.”  I disagree.  A more accurate, if less concise, version would be: “Perfect practice guides you on the endless journey towards perfection.”

That program, no matter how much time and teamwork you invest, will never be perfect.  Launch it.  Take feedback, positive and critical alike.  Improve.

My favorite musician, Jimmy Buffett, looked at the destruction following Hurricane Katrina.  He described the approach of residents of New Orleans, deluged emotionally and physically, with a six-word phrase: “Breathe in, breathe out, move on.”  One can argue planning failures led to much of the destruction, but on an individual basis, there they were, flooded out of their communities.  But they had each other.  It was about as far from perfect as they could get, yet still, they were pushing ahead.

We are in the midst of many credit unions’ planning periods.  Creating a strategy for a perfect 2015 is on many minds.  And it is wrong.

Create a living plan for a 2015 where you achieve specific goals.  No amount of planning will make perfection, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you…ah, well, you know the rest.

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