Remember the super-cool self-lacing shoes from Back to the Future Part II? For almost thirty years, a generation of kids has longed for shoes that tie themselves.

Fast forward to 2016. Nike, apparently, has found a way to make that happen. Meet the Nike HyperAdapt 1.0.

Done drooling yet?

Aside from just how cool self-lacing shoes (or, as Nike refers to them, “adaptive lacing”) are, there is a greater and deeper message for your bank or credit union.

That message is – you’d better stay on the cutting edge of things and reflect the dreams of your consumers or you risk going extinct.

This type of product exhibits the kind of forward-thinking critical for the long-term success of any retail outlet (and make no mistake about it, your bank or credit union is in the retail business).

Does your strategic plan include a focus on cutting-edge products and services for consumers in the next five to ten years? If not, why? If you aren’t thinking about the latest and greatest ways to serve your consumers now, your competition is happy to do so. According to CUNA’s 2016 E-Scan, more than 1,200 new start-ups entered the payments arena in the past two years alone. Are you ready to compete?

Think about it in context. Even as short as five years ago, no one really saw a world in which most consumers preferred to interact with their financial institution using a smart phone or tablet device. Wise credit unions and banks, however, those with the Nike mentality, thought ahead and began rolling out just such platforms for their consumers in advance of peak desire. I wince every time I see a bank or credit union talking about their great new app coming out like it’s really a big deal. Folks, if you are just now rolling out your first app, you are seriously behind the curve

I challenge you to, in turn, challenge your bank or credit union executive team and board to revisit their focus on the future. If they don’t believe in it, just drop in an eight-track player or VCR on the table and asked them how relevant it is to their lives today.

Financial products from banks and credit unions may never be as uber-cool as self-lacing shoes, but we definitely have our equivalents in financial access products and services. The task at hand is proving just how important it is to think ahead and be ready with those products and services by the time consumers reach peak demand.