The Mother Of All Easy-To-Enter Award Programs

I can only imagine that the great philosopher Plato was backed into a corner one day by a brash student who gave him this challenge: "Give me an observation that will stand the test of time. And you have 10 seconds to do so, beginning now!" (The student would go on to become an examiner.)

Plato thought for five of those seconds, and then responded to his hushed students and aspiring scholars, "Necessity is the mother of invention."

I can't prove that's how the conversation went, but I'd like to think Plato pulled off such a clever and fitting response.

The philosopher's observation has proven to stand the test of time, those who credit it to the Bible or Shakespeare, and most of all, Frank Zappa. It's also been the founding principle for innovation within the credit union community over the past two to three years (how many meetings do you think have begun, "We don't have any budget, but..."?), when whatever coins were left over in the CU's till were sucked up and more by special assessments that were (and are) right out of the Church Lady's definition of "special." Mother of invention? Certainly, CU leaders have uttered the word "mother" in some form over the past year or two.

For what credit unions have accomplished over that same time, many of you deserve a pat on the back and not a Kick Me sign. For that reason and others, Credit Union Journal is proud to once again recognize the most innovative with our annual Best Practices Awards. This year we will be paying special attention to those ideas implemented with budgets off the dollar menu.

The Journal's Best Practices issue, to be published in November, is a tribute to best practices of all kinds, from CUs of all sizes.

As always, I want to emphasize we have made it deliberately easy to enter: just click here. Then just type away and share an idea, strategy or product or service implementation you're proud of.

There are a couple of rules so easy you won't need a compliance officer to review.

• The Best Practice must be something you have implemented since Jan. 1, 2010.

• There are no categories (you can identify your own, or we'll give it one.

• Nominations may be submitted by CUs themselves, CUSOs or trade associations, or vendors that have clients they believe exemplify the best practice in implementing a particular product or service.

If you wish to provide more information, you can e-mail myself (fdiekmann@cujournal.com) or Managing Editor Lisa Freeman (lfreeman@cujournal.com). We know you are enthusiastic, but try to limit your e-mail to 500 words or fewer.

• The nomination essay should include as many tangible measures as practical (including ROI where available) documenting the best practice; the background or environment prior to the implementation of the best practice; factors driving adoption of the best practice, and any new products/solutions deployed to achieve the best practice.

• And, in answer to the most frequent question, it is free to enter.

Finally, our Best Practices Awards are especially for those of you who don't typically enter awards programs. We look forward to hearing from you.

After all, you don't want us to contact your mother.

Not more than two hours after Members United Bridge Corporate announced it had chosen a new name as it recapitalizes and relaunches operations-Alloya Corporate Credit Union-I received an e-mail from a CEO saying he can imagine the future conversations in trade shows and CU offices:

"Hi, I'm with Alloya."

"Really, what kind of lawyer are you?"

While Members United has selected a hybrid name (Alloya is meant to represent All, Alloy and Loyal), and the merged institution to be created by the combination of Southwest Bridge Corporate and Georgia Corporate has selected a non-geographic brand (Catalyst Corporate), you have to give credit to Western Bridge Corporate for going old school in the name it has selected: United Resources FCU. The former WesCorp has opted for a brand that represents what corporates are supposed to be and why they were formed. The Charter Committee said it reviewed more than 70 names.

"We wanted a name that reflected the unique advantage of the credit union model when members join together to share resources," said Chairman Matt Davidson.

Frank J. Diekmann can be reached at fdiekmann@cujournal.com