No credit union is perfect, and errors will happen.
But leaders need to remember that errors also provide opportunities to learn and make the credit union better.
“Practical Paranoia: Handling Disruption from a Position of Strength and Flexibility,” a white paper from the CUNA CEO Council, examines the concept of “practical paranoia” and how leaders can turn a bad situation it into an opportunity for growth and improvement.
Productive paranoia is a concept developed in “Great by Choice,” a book by Jim Collins and Morten T. Hansen. It’s described as someone’s ability to be hyper-vigilant about potentially bad events that can hit an organization, and then turn that fear into preparation and clearheaded action.
These individuals embrace possible dangers and distinguish themselves by taking effective action as a result.
Failure is inevitable no matter how much preparation or planning you do: You launch a new product and don’t receive the expected response from members. A member becomes upset due to a new loan application process.
What matters isn’t that your product or process failed, but how you deal with the failure. Dealing with errors is a crucial step in developing a culture that embraces learning because errors may provide an opportunity to learn.
“Research shows that more is learned in an organization with an error-management culture,” according to the AFM report, “Learning from Errors: Toward an Error-Management Culture.”
Organizations that create an error-management culture experience:
Ethical behavior among employees. Employees tend to report their own and other people’s errors honestly and act responsibly.
“Nobody enjoys failure, tragedy, danger, or catastrophe,” says Steven Bugg, president/CEO at $837 million asset Great Lakes Credit Union in Bannockburn, Ill. “However, I view situations that arise in these areas as opportunities to learn and grow. I step back and reflect prior to moving forward. I focus on remaining as positive as I can during trying times.”
When challenges arise at the credit union, Bugg says he asks questions and engages in open and honest discussions. He also conducts a “root cause analysis” to learn how to prevent the same issues from reoccurring.
“Dealing with the facts is paramount to this process,” Bugg says. “And working through the emotions is tough at times.”
"But if I lead by example," he adds, "others will do the same."