Trends, Futurism, and Research

    Let’s Tax the Boy Scouts

    Credit Unions are more like George Bailey than Henry Potter.

    Credit Unions are more like James Stewart than Henry Potter.

    Do you belong to a Credit Union? Many Americans do, about 97 million to be precise. A large number, although Credit Unions represent only 6% of financial transactions.

    I’m posting about credit unions because these beneficial organizations are under attack. The link to innovation is profound — credit unions are how many people establish their financial base. People with a financial leg to stand on are the kind of people who start business and fuel the economy.

    Have you ever heard the phrase “building up a stake?” You can’t start a new company, or even a family, with nothing. One must have at least seed money, or more, to get a start-up going. Credit Unions are a great way for average folks to save nickels and dimes and build up a stake. Also a good source for small business loans. Loans banks, typically, have no interest in giving, and when they do, they charge hefty fee’s.

    A credit union is a membership organisation, and, are non-profit by definition. They are not banks. The Boy Scouts are a membership based organization. So is Ducks Unlimited, the NRA, and Melanoma Know More (a cancer charity). So are churches. Membership organizations are a cornerstone of American society. They do good work, mostly, and since they are non-profit, our tradition, history — and law — has been to not tax them, and this has been a very good thing by and large. This is a freedom issue right? Citizens in a free country are allowed to organize themselves any way they want. It might be a chess club, a gun club, or, a collective for buying food (a co-op), or a collective for mutual financial services. How would you feel if Kroger’s lobbied the government against farmers markets or food co-ops? It’s also an economic issue. Credit Unions are an entry point into the economy for many people starting out, it’s how they get that first loan.

    Essentially credit unions are a way for people, their members, to band together, pool resources, and provide members low cost loans and other small scale financial services. Profits go back into the pool for mutual benefit. Most members of credit unions are not wealthy folks. They are typically working people doing their best to save a bit of money, put together a stake, or  buy the things they need and want. Things like cars, homes, equipment for farms or small businesses — you get the idea. Again, Credit Unions are not banks. Banks are for-profit (although this is “in theory” — didn’t we, as in our government, just rescue many banks to the tune of billions? But I digress…). One of the reasons banks fear credit unions is because people have a growing distrust for banks and bankers. I wonder why?

    I was made aware recently that there is a move afoot to tax credit unions. It would seem banks and certain politicians are recognizing that: 1.) if they were able to tax credit unions there would be significant revenue to the government, and 2.) banks would cripple credit unions, who they see as competition if the tax exempt status were removed. Larger credit unions do indeed compete with banks. I don’t see that as a bad thing, and, I don’t see it as a reason to tax them. Churches compete with the Chicago Bulls for attendance — I don’t see the Bulls lobbying congress and the President to tax churches. Banks have advantages that Credit Unions don’t — like raising money by selling shares for instance. The playing field is already tilted in their direction. Politicians may like the idea of taxing Credit Unions as a way to balance budgets, but guys, that money is already taxed! It’s taxed coming out of Joe Toolbox’s pay check, and dividends on his account at the Credit Union are taxed again as income. Isn’t it a conservative principle to tax things only once?

    Speaking of conservatives, that flagrant liberal, Ronald Reagan, sure wouldn’t like this move to cripple credit unions. Reagan to his everlasting credit, pushed for, and got, significant deregulation of credit unions. He thought it was soundly conservative to encourage people to save money and then buy things. When he left office the credit union movement had been strengthened (and so was the economy, it was a smart stimulus move). He did what he was good at, getting the government out of the way of consumer choice.

    This new movement to tax Credit Unions is, in my view: un-American, anti-innovation, anti-consumer, anti-choice, anti-growth — and just plain stupid. It’s also quite un-democratic in that the deliberations on tax code revisions are done behind closed doors in Washington. In researching this post I can’t find one politician on record saying he wants the tax exempt status removed. That’s ominous in my view, it would appear they are hiding behind a cloud of governmental smoke.

    If you tax credit unions, what’s next, the Boy Scouts? For more on the “Don’t Tax Credit Unions” side of the story, see http://www.donttaxmycreditunion.org or follow the has tag #DontTaxMyCu

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    Yes, I Tweet a Bit (Innovators Use Twitter)

    I was just named as one of the Top 50 Innovation tweeters by Innovation Excellence. A tweeter is one who uses Twitter. It’s a fairly informal sort of top 50 list — I don’t think there is a great deal of analysis around content or reach, but still, it’s nice to be recognized. I crossed the 10,000 follower line about a month ago, and weirdly, it felt like a real accomplishment. Then I saw that my friend and colleague Dr. Cindi Burnet (@Cyndiburnett) is over 50,000 followers and I didn’t feel quite so glamorous. And, you get out of Twitter what you put into it. I’m happy with my results at my current time-investment level. 10,000 feels like a “very

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    The Value of a “Cross Domain” View

      Dr. Orin Davis (@DrOrinDavis) has written up two more short pieces — essentially his reflections from the talks of Rebecca Henderson and Dan Pink at the recent World Innovation Forum. His comments on Pink are somewhat provocative, so, be aware I do not share Orin’s views exactly. Orin is a well read academic (and practitioner as well) and he knows a lot about the wide array of literature that exists for creativity and innovation — that’s why I’ m publishing his insightful work here. His critique of Pink is interesting to me because I was not aware of who Pink borrows from, and, if he is borrowing faithfully to the original research. That said, I think there’s a real value for people

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    Trayvon, George, Fear and Creativity

    It’s all about Fear. I’m of the belief that fear is the opposite of creativity. Fear leans towards the darkness in our souls. Creativity leans towards the light. Creativity is high order thinking, fear is not thinking, it’s letting our lizard brain dictate our action. Fear is the hidden truth in what happened with the Zimmerman sentence and the Martin murder. Some would question, now, my use of the word murder when Zimmerman has been acquitted. I’m sorry, but George is responsible for the death of Trayvon Martin. He put himself in that position, he fired the weapon, in my view he’s responsible. George Zimmerman was operating from a fundamental place of fear. He could have chose differently. Fear is

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    Report from World Innovation Forum

    My good friend and colleague Orin Davis, Phd is covering the World Innovation Forum 2013 and I’m pleased to post his reporting here. Dr. Davis has the unique perspective of a bona fide psychology and innovation researcher, see his website here for more on his interesting work. Orin has worked directly with the famous Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of “Flow” — suffice to say he not only knows Mihaly, he can pronounce his name properly! Here he comments on PepsiCo’s Mauro Porcini’s talk at WIF. Stay tuned to this blog for more posts on WIF 2013. **** PepsiCo’s Mauro Porcini packed a lot of great information into a one-hour talk, but one of his key points was that design-driven innovation requires a focus on

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    KILN Continues to Innovate Innovation Services

    I’m off to the FEI show (Front End of Innovation) in Boston this week. In my view it’s the most serious innovation conference in the world, and the USA edition features speakers and participants from a who’s who of international organizations. I’m particularly interested in hearing Denise Morrison CEO of Campbell Soup about their use of culture in the innovation process, and also Nelson Farris of Nike about corporate storytelling. It will be great to catch up with Idea Management System vendors like CogniStreamer, and innovation service firms like Ideas To Go and Maddock Douglas. They’re always doing something new. I’m glad the show is in Boston. After the recent troubles it feels appropriate that a conference dedicated to positive change is

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    The Innovation State of the Union

    President Obama made mention in his state of the union address that he wishes to expand the National Netowrk for Manufacturing Innovation concept. I wholly applaud the idea, AND, there might be a more fundamental challenge that needs addressed first. I’ve made the acquaintance of a thought leader with her finger on the pulse of where the nation sits in terms of technological readiness to innovate. Her name is Pamela Menges, and she’s President of a high-tech start up in Cincinnati. She’s also a professor at the University of Cincinnati in their Engineering department. Steve Jobs once challenged Obama to find him 30,000 engineers so he could build a plant in California. That challenge remains a big one, and again,

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    When Culture Matters…for Innovation

    Back in those glory days at the University of Cincinnati, I was assigned a lovely little textbook to read for Freshman English class called “The Elements of Style” (by E.B. White and William Strunk). In a nutshell it’s all about how to write clearly. It provides succinct advice with spot-on examples. It’s a smallish book which easily fits into your jacket pocket. I read it, used it, and have refferred to it hundreds of times over the years. I treasure that slim little book. I’ve just found a similar treasure — but having to do with cross-cultural communications.  It’s official title is When Culture Matters, the 55 minute guide to better cross-cultural communication, by Indy Neogy.* True to its title,

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    Innovate On COQ

    Guerilla Innovation Chapter Four Innovate on COQ Doing “COQ ” (rhymes with Poke) will get you somewhere. If you want to be an innovator you have to create something new — and how do you do that? COQ. COQ stands for Curiosity, Observation and Questions. This COQ is not illegal, but it is rare and precious. Innovator’s should live in a constant state of COQ. Not a COQ “high” a COQ aware. How do you discover that niche, that point of difference, that special value that customers will pay for? COQ that’s how. An innovator has to be Curious beyond measure. Yes, an innovator has to know something at the start, that’s why reading everything you can get your hands

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    Even a Pizza Shop Has a Point of Difference

    Guerilla Innovation, Chapter One, Point of Difference Innovation begins with a desire to create something. When you use your creativity to make something, to actually be innovative, it has to have a point of difference. Even a pizza shop has some point of difference right? Thin crust, deep dish, by-the-slice, or even, the only pizza shop in Three Oaks, Michigan. Those are minimal points of difference but in the pizza business that might be enough. At the heart of it, Innovation is all about new and different. Or at the very least, significantly better. You’ve got it in mind you want to start a business, and maybe you have a firm idea of just what you’re going to do and

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