Delivering Valuable Economic Insights with a Side of Creativity
Posted by Terry Young, VP - Communications & Marketing , Catalyst Corporate FCU on 5/23/2019

Credit unions’ love affair with economics is going to become more graphic this year.

Allow me to explain.

For 20 years now, one of my favorite roles has been to connect credit union leaders to the emerging financial landscape via an annual Economic Forum.

In the 20 years of coordinating Economic Forums, I’ve had the opportunity to work with nearly a hundred economists. Some have been dynamic. Some have been funny. And some have been painfully longwinded, or dull, or both. I apologize for that last group.

It is hard to make a love connection with the economy if the economist puts you to sleep.

Fortunately, Joe Pine, author of the Experience Economy, was a presenter at an earlier Economic Forum that I worked on. His message helped me to understand the importance of not just creating an educational event. As I listened to his presentation, I understood my mission going forward would be to create “an experience” that would help facilitate a connection between the audience and the economy.  

Pine argued that businesses must orchestrate memorable events for their customers, and that memory itself becomes the product: the "experience.”

Economists have historically lumped experiences in with services, but as Pine noted, “Experiences are a distinct economic offering, as different from services as services are from goods.”

Pine used the birthday cake as the central signifier of the “experience” economy – particularly the shift from commodities (the core ingredients of a homemade birthday cake, like flour, sugar, and eggs) to goods (a Betty Crocker mix purchased at the grocery store) to services (the birthday cake bought at the grocery store bakery, decorated by an anonymous employee, instead of dear old mom) to experiences (the now-common “outsourced” birthday party using a rented themed space, catered food and, of course, a birthday cake).

From that point forward, efforts went beyond simply hiring economists, and more toward making sure attendees had a memorable experience - during which there would be ample opportunities to make a connection with economic insights. I believe credit union leaders looking to position their institutions for success have a strong desire for economic insights.

For example, this year’s Forum will feature economic insights from nearly a dozen presenters, captured by Angie Moline, a self-described “professional doodler.” Her unique on-the-fly doodles provide a concise and visually entertaining recap of the information presented. She maps, graphs, sketches, doodles, and draws her way through topics such as the environment, eco-travel, engineering and art. This year, she will take on economics.

Her process is pretty straightforward. With colored markers in hand, she listens attentively for key concepts. As she captures important ideas on her sketch pad, her distinctive infographic comes to life. And when finished, the renderings become a useful, visual reminder.

Moline says: “I work as the scribe-on-the-side to illustrate the flow of ideas during important meetings, record key points that speakers make at conferences, and convert wordy documents into easy-to-read visual summaries.” Simply put: “I draw pictures to help you think.”

Attendees will receive a compilation of the graphic work she creates during the conference. She will also be the final speaker, presenting A Visual Thinking Workshop - Practical Tools That Lead to Innovative Results.

This year, the economy, with Moline’s help, will look good- literally.

Categories: Business Partners, Education & Training, Marketing & Printing
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