Kachelski, Barb

In the field of financial services, credit unions haven’t always been known as product innovators. Slowly that perception is being turned on its ear, and thanks to the advice of Gail McGovern, who spoke at Advanced Leadership Institute (held July 24-29 at Boston’s Harvard Business School and offered by CUES and the California Credit Union League), that transformation should speed up even more.

Among McGovern’s words of wisdom were what she called the four ways to position a new product:

1. Classic positioning-Where a base product and its augmentation grow in capability.

2. Reverse positioning-Where a company strips out basic attributes, but augments to surprise and delight. Examples are IKEA, Costco and JetBlue.

3. Breakaway positioning-Where you reject associations with an older category. SWATCH is a good example of this. It made watches into a fashion item like jewelry, so people would have 20 of them.

4. Stealth positioning-Where you hide your ultimate goal under an interim goal. McGovern used Apple’s iPod as an example of this. The iPod is thought of as a music provider. However, Apple is giving it the power of a handheld computer. It already can do calendaring, contact info, data storage and more.

McGovern, a Harvard Business School professor of management practice, left credit union leaders with two key questions regarding stealth positioning: 1 ) Can you do it to somebody? And 2) Who can do this to you?

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Copyright Credit Union Executives Society Dec 2005

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