An Idea (Contest) Worth Emulating

NEEDHAM, Mass.—One credit union has introduced an annual “idea contest” it says is not only generating more actionable suggestions from staff, but also making employees better strategic thinkers.

Direct FCU in June held its first DirectTank, a new yearly competition among employees to submit ideas to leadership.

Several employees, across all levels and departments, submitted their ideas for DirectTank. Following an evaluation, the proposals were narrowed down to three finalists who were then asked to present their concepts to the entire credit union—in an environment similar to the TV show Shark Tank—at an all-employee meeting. One winner was selected.

“DirectTank is a marketing idea to increase usage of DirectThinker,” explained CEO Joe Walsh. “DirectThinker is our version of the suggestion box. We built a custom app for employees to submit ideas and to place their ideas within the context of our strategic plan—tie the idea to building blocks of the plan.”

Walsh said that since DirectThinker was launched two years ago, employee use of the app had been good but not great.

“We were looking for a way to increase participation and get more ideas from our staff,” said Walsh.

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