In Pursuit of Perfection

‘Diamond Performance Framework’ can help CUs achieve excellence.

May 19, 2014
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If you constantly strive for perfection, you might achieve excellence along the way.

That mantra drove John Foley’s pursuit of perfection as a Blue Angels pilot and it can do the same for credit union leaders—minus the G-force.

Foley, who addressed the 2014 CUNA CFO Council Conference Monday in Las Vegas, is a business performance expert who earned his stripes as Marine Corp instructor pilot and member of the elite Blue Angels squadron.

His experiences there taught him that sustained excellence requires not only a commitment to constant improvement but also a methodology that’s repeatable, transferable, and effective. That led Foley to create the “Diamond Performance Framework.”

This framework has four parts that surround a center point, or common mission:

1. Belief—what are your vision and your mission? “Start with the mindset before you think about process,” Foley said. “This is where your passion comes from.”

“You need something larger than yourself,” he added. “As a credit union leader, you do: You’re all about your members and community. Focus on this—it’s critical.”

2. Brief. This is all about focused preparation, Foley said.

“If you can learn to focus your mind, you can direct it in many places and get results,” he said.

3. Contracts. Building verbal and nonverbal contracts with co-workers builds trust.

“If you focus on trust, execution will follow,” Foley said, adding that contracts create trust, which results in execution. “Think about the contracts you have with your co-workers and your members. You have to trust your wingman to get where you want to go.”

4. Debrief. In all efforts, review what worked and what didn’t via open and honest discussions.

It’s what Foley considers the most important of the four-part framework. “You need to bake this into the DNA of the organization. It fosters accountability—when I make a mistake, I’ll fix it. A debrief can take just 30 seconds, but it’s very important.”

Following these four steps “creates a spiral of top performance,” Foley said, likening credit union CFOs to pilots.

“You have your hand on the stick—but you don’t do it alone. This requires teamwork.”

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