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(Solved) Objective : This exercise will give you a chance to analyze a successful leader's vision and process for developing that vision. Directions : Read...

Objective : This exercise will give you a chance to analyze a successful leader’s vision and process for developing that vision. 

Directions : Read the following case study. Then answer the discussion questions that follow.

In 2000, Doug Fecher was the chief operating officer of Wright-Patt Credit Union when his CEO unexpectedly passed away. Suddenly, he found himself serving as CEO of the largest credit union in the state of Ohio, USA.

Describing the experience, he said, “I had no idea what I was going to do with the organization and I was a little daunted by the challenge. I was on vacation, and I remember lying on top of a sailboat. Then it came to me: If you just put people first and take care of them, they will take care of you.”

Developing the Vision

Using this experience as inspiration, Doug began talking with employees and stakeholders. He spent a significant amount of time thinking about the fundamental purpose of a credit union as a coop- erative form of organization. He thought about what that purpose implied for all the stakeholders who made up the system in which he worked. He and his senior leadership team decided that they would run the organization based on a stakeholder model with three key constituents: member-owners (account holders), partner-employees, and community. The result was a new mission and vision:

Mission: We help people through life.

Vision: We will be the best financial institution our member-owners have ever experienced and

the best place our partner-employees have ever worked.

Communicating the Vision

During his years as CEO, Doug has worked very hard to put this vision into practice. He has taken advantage of every possible opportunity to talk about the vision. He speaks about the vision in his community and with other business leaders. Most importantly, he constantly seeks opportunities to talk about and reinforce the vision with partner-employees. Doug worked with his human resources department to change the new employee orientation pro- cess and create an experience that would represent the importance of the vision. Now, when new partner- employees arrive for their first day on the job, they are asked to bring casual clothes. Doug or another senior leader greets them. They talk about the vision of Wright-Patt Credit Union as a stakeholder- focused organization. They discuss the importance of making it a priority to focus on the real needs of people and of working hard to do those things that bring benefit, not only to the organization, but also to all stakeholders.

Doug says, “We spend the first day teaching you what it means to be an employee at this credit union. Quite simply, our job is to make people better off. This is the same job description for everyone here, no matter what role they play.”

Next, the new employee participates in a service project in the community, perhaps building hous- ing for the homeless, serving at the local food pantry, or making tricycles for young kids with disabilities. Doug says, “At the end of their first day, we want them to say to their family, ‘you would not believe it! I have just joined the best organization I could ever join!’”

Testing the Vision

Doug’s desire to “put people first and take care of them” was tested during the financial turbulence of the Great Recession. Shortly after the recession began, he spoke frankly at the annual partner-employee day in which the entire credit union gathers for dialogue. He told his partner-employees about the dif- ficulty that the organization would face during the coming years. He explained the very real possibility that the credit union would lose money as a result of financial disruptions in the economy. He outlined the challenges of new regulations being imposed by the U.S. government. He described the downturn in the housing market and the implications for the loan industry. One of the partner-employees, a teller, later explained what she heard:

Doug told us, “I want us to grow from this problem. I do not want to downsize. I want to move forward.” He then showed us a clip from the movie of Apollo 13, the scene where the flight director tells everyone “I don’t care what anything was made to do. I want to know what it can do.” Doug told us to take the same attitude, even though this would mean that we would need to make changes that might be uncomfortable for some of us.

Doug was keenly aware that WPCU could operate at a loss because of the recession, and that this devel- opment might endanger jobs. However, referring to the mission and vision, he challenged everyone to not resign themselves to this fate and to continue “putting people first,” making Wright-Patt Credit Union “the best financial institution members had ever experienced.” He also established what seemed like an unachievable goal for the year: to earn a positive net income sufficient to pay a bonus to each employee, and to pay a patronage dividend to our members (meaning that all account-holders would received an additional dividend). These goals became the basis for discussion among employees that day as they shared their ideas about how to move forward to meet the challenge.

The next day, he sent an email to the entire credit union, thanking every employee for participat- ing in partner day and outlining the changes that would be needed to meet their goals. He continued to communicate with every partner-employee monthly thereafter. He regularly shared success stories, explaining the changes that the leadership was implementing and updating them on their progress as an organization.

At the end of the year, Wright-Patt Credit Union had met all three goals: every employee received a bonus and over $3 million was paid to members in patronage dividends. This was a remarkable achieve- ment during a time when many U.S. credit unions, banks, and financial institutions were failing.

Refining the Vision

Under Doug’s leadership, Wright-Patt Credit Union continues to work on the vision he has estab- lished for the company. In 2013, he and the leadership team updated the strategic plan as follow

Wright-Patt Credit Union is in the business of helping people. It’s what we do. When we do it well, people are better off than they might have been otherwise. They should enjoy greater financial security and experience fewer financial problems. They should be able to trust their credit union to help them achieve a brighter financial future. 

Wright-Patt Credit Union’s strategic goals are not built around growth. WPCU does not aspire to become the biggest financial institution or the one with the most customers, or the most branches. But the Credit Union does work to help members achieve financial freedom. We believe that if WPCU is doing its job, things like growth and market share will take care of themselves. Indeed, WPCU’s Board and Management believes that rather than being an end of its own, growth is simply one way of measuring how well the Credit Union serves members.

Wright-Patt Credit Union continues to meet and even exceed its goals every year. It is growing at twice the rate of the industry. It adds new employees and expands its footprint each year. It is one of the 50 largest credit unions in the U.S. But for Doug, perhaps the most rewarding indicator of success comes from the feedback he receives about how Wright-Patt Credit Union touches its members and partners. 

Discussion :

1. How effective was Doug in defining and framing a vision for Wright-Patt Credit Union? In what ways were his efforts similar to and different from the example of Charles Schwab cited earlier?

  • ▪ How did Doug resolve the dilemma of where visions come from? Where did he find his vision?
  • ▪ Review the earlier metaphors of the rubber band, doorman, and jigsaw. Do any of these metaphors
  • seem especially relevant to Doug?
  • 2. Evaluate the content dimensions of Doug’s vision work at Wright-Patt Credit Union. How did he accomplish the processes described below?
  • ▪ Making the Case for Change
  • ▪ Identifying an Ideal Goal
  • ▪ Addressing the People dimension
  • 3. With respect to Articulating and Communicating the Vision, how effectively did Doug address the three different levels outlined as follows?
  • â–ª Strategic—“HEAD” â–ª Tactical—“HANDS” â–ª Personal—“HEART” 


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