Want great ideas from your staff? There’s an app for that


Credit Union Journal - - Special Report - BY W.B. KING

IN AN EF­FORT TO EN­GAGE EM­PLOY­EES, Di­rect Fed­eral Credit Union de­vel­oped Direc­tThinker, an app that al­lows em­ploy­ees to sub­mit ideas on how busi­ness op­er­a­tions could be im­proved.

“One of our main take­aways is that en­gaged em­ploy­ees cre­ate a cy­cle of pos­i­tive re­sults. As we cel­e­brate our in­di­vid­ual and col­lec­tive suc­cesses it drives us all to achieve more,” said Di­rect Fed­eral Credit Union Di­rec­tor of Mar­ket­ing Kris­ten John­son. “By en­sur­ing that our em­ploy­ees have a voice in our credit union’s di­rec­tion, we em­body our cul­tural as­pi­ra­tion of ‘if you want some­thing done right, do it to­gether.’”


The new app is just one part of a three­year ef­fort to trans­form the $580 mil­lion, Need­ham, Mass.-based credit union’s cul­ture.

This was achieved, in part, by in­still­ing core val­ues, such as drive, in­tegrity, re­silience, com­pe­tence and team­work, ex­plained John­son. To date, 143 ideas have been submitted by more than 50 per­cent of staff.


“So far, 27 ideas submitted have been im­ple­mented this year and 70 are in progress,” said John­son. “The re­main­ing ideas are be­ing in­cor­po­rated into our 2018 strate­gic plan.”

The app was con­ceived by a “cross-func­tional, credit union-wide team,” ex­plained John­son. This in­house team, along with the credit union’s ad­ver­tis­ing agency, cre­ated and struc­tured the pro­gram as well as the user ex­pe­ri­ence.

“The team also re­views all ideas, im­ple­ments the idea when ap­pro­pri­ate/ fea­si­ble or al­ter­na­tively as­signs the idea to whomever in the credit union is re­spon­si­ble for that area of our strate­gic plan,” said John­son.

In May 2017, the CU launched the in­au­gu­ral “Direc­tTank” com­pe­ti­tion, a com­pany-wide idea pitch con­test that en­cour­aged in­di­vid­u­als or teams to sub­mit for­mal­ized ideas with a project/ im­ple­men­ta­tion plan. In to­tal, eight sub­mis­sions were re­ceived from 12 em­ploy­ees and re­viewed by se­nior man­age­ment.

The top-three fi­nal­ists pre­sented re­spec­tive pitches and plans at an em­ployee-wide meet­ing in June. Em­ploy­ees were able to cast their vote on which idea “best max­i­mized value and min­i­mized waste” for the credit union, noted John­son.

“The win­ner, Su­san Lynch, pitched an ‘Em­ployee Vol­un­teer and Com­mu­nity Outreach Pro­gram.’ Su­san re­ceived $500 cash, an ex­tra va­ca­tion day and the fund­ing to im­ple­ment her project this year,” said John­son. “All ideas that were submitted were done so with such ex­ten­sive plan­ning and re­search, that the ma­jor­ity will also be im­ple­mented this year.”

A Di­rect Fed­eral Credit Union em­ployee us­ing the Direc­tthinker app at a kiosk.

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