Research: How To Make This The Year You Turn Research Into Action

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A wise man once said that someone who does not act on an idea is no better off than someone who does not have an idea. The same is true for organizations. Learning new things from research is a step in the right direction, but acting on that newly found knowledge is what brings success.

The key formula for turning research into action is a multi-stage, cyclical process called Action Research. It begins with a question, challenge, opportunity or goal, which defines the reason for doing the research. The next step is to gather the data. Step three is joint analysis and planning, and step four is executing the action. The cycle then begins anew, starting with the research stage.

It is critical to involve all stakeholders in the process because leadership can only bring about change if it can move people from compliance to commitment. Compliance means people play by the rules, but that’s not enough. To create change, staff needs to be committed and take ownership, not just comply. They have to be fully enrolled in and take responsibility for what needs to be accomplished.

Further, turning research into action requires system-wide change. This cannot occur unless everyone takes ownership of the process. Finally, to implement the actions, the institution has to change from a hierarchical structure to a participatory organization. It needs to move staff from subordination to empowerment and then to authorship. Subordination means acting under edicts from above. Empowerment is being given the authority to make decision within given parameters. The goal is authorship, which means people take ownership, and with it come pride and commitment to the credit union’s success

The process begins with research and involves staff at the front end (to get buy-in and have issues vetted) and throughout the analysis, planning and execution stages. In addition, always provide incentives and reward accomplishments, so that success is reflected in individual paychecks as well as in the credit union’s bottom line.

Neil Goldman is President of Member Research. He can be reached at 310-643-5910 or ngoldman (c) 2008 The Credit Union Journal and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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