The Seven Sins To Avoid When It Comes To Doing Research

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There are seven sins in credit union research. Committing one or more of them totally defeats the goals of any research project, which is to gather and act upon data to move the organization forward. They are:

1. Failure to communicate research results. Some years ago, a power failure left a stadium without scoreboard and PA system. Fans lost interest and left in droves. Similarly, if research results are not communicated, stakeholder commitment cannot be achieved.

2. Failure to act upon research results. The Not-Another-Survey syndrome derives from asking for feedback and not acting on it. If results indicate change is necessary, members expect the credit union to take appropriate steps.

3. Failure to recognize and reward positive change. Keep score, celebrate successes and reinforce positive behaviors by creating compensation plan tie-ins.

4. Failure to use research to support, not supplant, effective decision-making. Research provides input for decisions; it does not make decisions. In particular, beware of underreported interest in technology. Few would have expressed interest in ATMs prior to their introduction.

5. Failure to conduct ongoing research. Assessment of service quality, competition, positioning in the marketplace and brand awareness depends on a moving picture over time.

6. Failure to use trend-oriented research. Both self- and peer-comparisons are only valuable if tracked and trended over time.

7. Failure to use research not driven by the credit union's vision and objectives. Research objectives, vision and strategy must be strongly correlated. Derive research objectives from the vision and strategy; then, measure the research against the other two.

Failure to communicate research results (Sin No. 1) and failure to act upon research results (Sin No. 2) are perhaps the most prevalent and damaging. There's no point in doing research if the results are not communicated, if there's no commitment to act upon them, and if no tools exist with which to do so. Simply put, research that is not communicated and acted upon moves the organization backwards.

Neil Goldman is President of Member Research. He can be reached at (310) 643-5910 or at ngoldman

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