HERSHEY, Penn.-CUs have been offered some advice from a former member of the Doobie Brothers when it comes to managing an institution in an increasingly complex financial services market.

Jeff Baxter, a founding member of Steely Dan, a former guitarist in the Doobie Brothers, and today a respected consultant to the Defense Department, told CU execs at the Pennsylvania CU Association's annual meeting it will take out-of-the-box thinking to solve many of the issues facing them now and down the road.

"Improvisation is a grand part of being a musician. But now improvisation is being taught in the intelligence business-the Defense Department recognizes the importance of improvisational thinking in problem solving," said Baxter. "Jazz is based on a strong set of rules, however each musician steps back from the rules and begins to improvise, playing music and generating ideas and concepts not part of the original concept."

Credit unions need to be more like jazz players and improvise, he said. As an example, Baxter played a Steely Dan song and then "deconstructed" it, playing the original rock tune to sound like a country and then a jazz song. "Same song, same chords, same melody, but you know look at the song totally differently. If you break something down, into its building blocks, you can take a song anywhere and make it new."

The thinking makes a great deal of sense today in the financial services world, whose ways of doing business are changing quickly, said Baxter. "You have to take what you now, break the problem down into its smallest components, reorganize the parts and come up with better solutions."

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