I asked ChatGPT what is the biggest failing of credit union boards of directors. It spit out a very interesting (dare I say “thought”-ful?) list. A healthy director and board will consider these potential failings with a hard look in the mirror.
By Kevin Smith
I’m generally not a bleeding-edge adopter of technology. But I’m no Luddite either. My preferred category is fast-follower. So, this whole AI, large language model of machine learning thing has finally gotten my attention. (Given it’s prevalence in the media, it’s no wonder.) And I decided to try it out. What’s this got to do with credit union boards of directors, you say? Well, let’s see.
I decided to find out what ChatGPT had to say about something I felt I knew something about: credit union boards, so that I could evaluate the response. And the prompt that I chose was this:
What is the biggest failing of credit union boards of directors?
And here is ChatGPT’s Response to the prompt:
While credit unions generally operate with a member-centric focus and strive to fulfill their mission of serving their members, they are not exempt from potential challenges and failings. One of the most significant failings that credit union boards of directors might encounter is a lack of diversity and inclusion. Here are some aspects to consider:
- Lack of Diversity on the Board: Credit union boards may suffer from homogeneity in terms of demographics, professional backgrounds, and experiences. This lack of diversity can limit the board’s ability to consider different perspectives and adequately represent the diverse needs of their membership.
- Insufficient Expertise and Skills: Sometimes, credit union boards might lack specific expertise, such as financial, technology, or marketing knowledge, which are crucial for making informed decisions and staying competitive in the financial industry.
- Limited Understanding of Membership Needs: If the board is not adequately connected to the credit union’s membership or lacks insight into their evolving needs, it may lead to misaligned strategies and services that do not effectively address member concerns.
- Ineffective Governance and Oversight: Boards that do not have clear governance structures or fail to provide proper oversight might face challenges in ensuring financial stability, managing risks, or maintaining compliance with regulations.
- Resistance to Change: In rapidly evolving markets, credit unions must adapt to new technologies and member preferences. If the board is resistant to change or slow to respond to shifts in the financial industry, the credit union’s ability to remain competitive and relevant could be compromised.
- Inadequate Succession Planning: A failure to plan for board member succession can lead to a lack of continuity in leadership and a loss of institutional knowledge. Effective succession planning ensures a smooth transition and fosters a long-term vision.
- Weak Communication and Engagement: Boards that do not actively engage with their members and fail to communicate transparently may lead to dissatisfaction among members and weaken the credit union’s sense of community.
It’s important to note that not all credit unions will experience these challenges, and many credit union boards effectively address and overcome these potential failings. By promoting diversity, fostering a culture of continuous learning, engaging with members, and maintaining strong governance practices, credit union boards can improve their ability to serve their members and fulfill their mission effectively. Regular assessments, training, and ongoing self-evaluation can also help boards identify areas for improvement and ensure they are meeting the evolving needs of their members.
End of ChatGPT and back to Kevin.
Keep in Mind
Keep in mind that what ChatGPT does is “scrape” the interweb-tubes for its information, which means that what you see above is information that came from humans at some point.
What do you think? What do I think?
What do you think of this list of “failings?” Does it resonate with you? With your board? With your experience of the credit union movement?
What I think is that people in our industry don’t like to dwell on the negative for fear of being seen as pessimistic. But a lot of what is said above, is also said in hallways outside of conference rooms, or in one-one-one conversations. And I agree with most all of what’s in that list … to one degree or another.
Before You Get Defensive
Now before you start drafting a salty comment or email to me about how your board isn’t like that and isn’t failing, etc., please take a breath. I make a clear caveat quite often: This list of failings that I agree with represents a broad generalization about boards in the credit union movement as a whole. Notice very carefully the final paragraph from the results, starting “It’s important to note that not all credit unions ….” Isn’t that interesting how ChatGPT has its very own caveat about this not being true of every organization? I’m giving it some added style points for that flourish as I wasn’t expecting that.
What Do We Do With This?
Every board would be prudent to review this list and put it on an agenda for discussion. (This would be a great topic to bandy back and forth on your board portal.) Every board should reflect in an honest way about where they stand on all of these issues. It’s very important to acknowledge that it can be very difficult to see your own failings, to have anything but a rosy view of how your board is doing. No one ever says, “Yes, it’s me. I’m resistant to change.” But it is very clear that credit union boards can be prone to this issue. What’s worse, is when there’s one board member with this problem that is holding back the full board but no one will confront them on it.
This requires candor. It requires trust. It requires a full-fledged desire to do what’s best for the credit union. And it’s very worthwhile.
So, thank you to ChatGPT for this interesting exercise. Now … what do you think? As always, we’d like hear your thoughts.