3 pillars of a successful strategic planning session

If you’ve looked back on past strategic plans for your credit union and titled them “the road to nowhere,” it doesn’t have to be that way in 2022. It doesn’t matter the size of the credit union, the reasons why even the best written credit union strategic plans fail in execution throughout the following year are all the same. 

You’re reacting to the challenges of the past year. Membership is in decline, loan growth is stagnant… you name it and you’re reflecting on what didn’t work this past year and trying to negate it.

Fixing last year’s problems are important, but it won’t get you to where you really want to be. One of the exercises we practice in YMC strategic planning for credit unions is envisioning what next-level looks like. Instead of focusing on last year’s problems, we imagine what the credit union looks like if it were achieving an impossible utopia. From risk and finance, to processes and operations and several other areas, we define what each of those will look like in 12 months. The old saying, the windshield is bigger than the rearview mirror for a reason. Each serves a purpose.

A little less talk and a lot more action. I always include a slide with these wise words from famous philosopher Toby Keith. Why? It’s great to dream. It’s great to walk through the next level exercise mentioned above, but without a roadmap to implementation you’ll never actually achieve your next level vision. In the end you need granular detail with due dates and ownership for accountability to ensure the action steps are taken to get you closer to that next-level vision.

“But strategic planning isn’t just a punch list.”

You are correct! But strategic planning isn’t just visionary dreaming either.

You focus on what you know. There’s a good chance that your ideal member is not represented in your credit union strategic planning session. Observe your board and leadership team; you probably don’t have the ability to achieve what Mel Gibson did in the movie, “What Women Want.”

When your strategic planning session focuses on what you already know, you’re holding your credit union back from achieving next-level results. Shifting demographics, rapidly changing technology, threatening new legislation … you name it, and there are likely are some major knowledge gaps in the room. The best strategic planning sessions uncover things you don’t know but need to know to help make the best decisions for the future of your credit union.

Which of those pillars do you identify with most? Which area do you need to focus on to have a successful strategic planning session that will lead to action and ultimately results next year?

Bo McDonald

Bo McDonald

Bo McDonald is president of Your Marketing Co. A marketing firm that started serving credit unions nearly a decade ago, offering a wide range of services including web design, branding, ... Web: yourmarketing.co Details