Addison Avenue Federal Credit Union Achieves Focus, Communication, and Decision Making
by Jim Cardwell and Kristie Greenleaf
Monday, March 29, 2004
A Case Study Featuring Steve Lumm, President/CEO
If your management team has ever struggled with maintaining focus on the right priorities or with communication after meetings, or with decision-making on what to do and what not to do, you're not alone. Addison Avenue Federal Credit Union was faced with these issues and looked for a way to link their organization’s employees and activities.
Project management in particular was where Addison Avenue saw challenges in focus, communication and decision-making, according to Steve Lumm, President and CEO. "Deciding which projects to do and, more importantly, which projects NOT to do was a challenge. How do we allocate resources? How do we communicate changes in plans? How do we keep the team on the same page between meetings? Getting projects done was our greatest hurdle."
"We now have an application that helps us focus on what’s mission critical," adds Lumm. There is one place to view priorities, which greatly helps us in communicating what’s important to the rest of our organization. It gives us a systematic way of looking at what’s essential, making decisions and adapting to changes. It centralizes leadership information, allowing us to decentralize the management process."
"The application we choose is Connections Online, software package developed by Cardwell. This methodology allows everyone to look at the same set of projects online/real time in the context of our strategic priorities, mission and critical measures. Anyone can see what’s on and off our target list. You can click on a specific project and drill down to see its current status. This shows the actual project plan, identifies the project team, and summarizes the metrics of achievement. We’ve also tied this back to individual accountability and responsibilities."
He meets with the leaders of each of Addison Avenue’s functional areas in a team-based Organizational Dialogue every month. In this session the team has an open and meaningful discussion of the current results, as well as the priorities for the coming months and quarter. They look at project changes, resource allocation needs, and review stories of what’s worked well and what hasn’t. They also discuss their core values. "These Monthly Dialogs are a chance to hear about successes and opportunities, and they reinforce the culture of our organization," adds Lumm. Direct reports then have dialogues with their managers using the Individual Connection module. "They share the issues and outcomes in each of the basic elements of their job. We don’t just focus on what’s broken or the hot topic of the day. It is an opportunity to let them show what they contribute from a more strategic perspective. This dialog fosters coordination and on-going alignment."
In between dialogs teams, departments, and individuals update information in the software as they complete various projects. "Connections Online really pulls the key operating parts of the organization into one place. The communication that surrounds the process is excellent. I like being able to, on a regular basis, talk about our success, our culture, and our projects. This gives us a succinct way to have a discussion about our organization -- what we do, and how we do it. It is a great way to recognize people for their contribution."
Connections Online consists of 5 separate modules in an SQL relational database engine. It is integrated with the Microsoft Suite, launches from Outlook, integrates with Outlook tasks and dates, and has import/export features to Word, Excel, and Project.
Addison Avenue Federal Credit Union serves HP and Agilent Technologies. It operates with 2 back office locations, 24 branches across the U.S., 350 employees, $1.7 billion in assets and 122,000 members. "The net result for us is that Connections Online is a leadership tool that simply makes the work more enjoyable – the workplace is more achievement oriented, with clearer direction. It provides a fair system for debating and allocating resources," says Lumm.