Growth is not a strategy

Ahh, strategic planning. That fun time of year when every bank and credit union gathers its key leadership team and stakes-out a roadmap for the future. Goals are discussed, dreams are debated and (hopefully) most folks leave the table feeling heard and that at least a portion of their agenda was captured in the plan.

After facilitating hundreds of strategic planning sessions for banks and credit unions, a number of commonalities come to the surface. One of which is the following — growth is not a strategy.

Don’t get me wrong. Growth is important. Growth is largely why we have strategic planning sessions. But growth, in and of itself, is not a strategy. Neither is saying something like “our bank\credit union will reach $X in assets by year-end.” “We want to grow XYZ” as a bullet point in your strategic plan looks good but will likely achieve little when viewed in this skewed light.

Growth, while not a strategy, is a goal. Your bank or credit union can’t afford to confuse the two. Strategic planning sessions are designed to whittle the ideas down to a top handful to which everyone can agree. You can certainly assign a set amount (things such as loan volume, total number of members/customers, ROA, etc.) as a goal, but again, this is not a strategy. The strategy involves the steps your team must clearly define that help achieve the goal.

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