‘Revel in the Variation’

By Ron Jooss05.01.2019

Most credit union leaders achieved their current job status by being good problem-solvers.

“See the problem, solve the problem” is in fact a mindset of corporate America, says Matt Mullarkey, a University of South Florida professor, during the PSCU Member Forum in Austin, Texas.

Data science also takes a mindset, but one that’s different from what most executives used to achieve their current position, he says.

“You are very good at crushing the mean,” Mullarkey says. “But what if the mean is the problem? You have to revel in the variation.”

Take, for example, hospital waiting times. “The average wait time may be 15 minutes,” he says. “But the person who waits 50, 60, or 70 minutes who goes bat crazy and walks out of the office and will never come back again. It’s not the average, it’s the variation around the mean that kills them.”

Similarly, it’s not the interactions with satisfied members that hurt credit unions, it’s those with unhappy members that do the most damage, Mullarkey says.

He suggests asking these questions when taking on a project:

  • Who owns the data science in our organization?
  • Who controls the data?
  • Who asks the best questions?
  • Who is closest to the problem?
  • Who is closest to the member?
  • Who do we discover hidden insights?
  • Where do we start?
  • How do we measure success?

(via CUNA News)