Reimagining strategic planning

Many of us are currently knee deep in budgeting and strategic planning. How has the pandemic changed your credit union’s strategy? How has it changed the needs of your members?  

It’s probably too late in the year to change your 2021 strategic planning process. However, the upcoming year can be a perfect time to step back and re-evaluate your strategic planning approach.  

Perhaps you can benefit from a few key lessons we’ve learned here at GreenPath Financial Wellness. Like credit unions, we are a mission-driven 501c3 non-profit organization. One key lesson we learned was that we can’t be everything to everyone. We care about everyone, but we realized we had to become more specific in identifying who we serve and how we can help them.

A key part of our shift was creating an Intended Impact and Theory of Change in 2019. We did this to clarify the population we intend to serve, the ultimate outcomes we want to help them achieve, and how we’ll measure success. I strongly urge your credit union to consider creating your own Intended Impact and Theory of Change.

Now we’re taking the next step and linking our Intended Impact and Theory of Change directly to our strategic planning process as we determine what we want to accomplish in 2021. 

We’re also changing our strategic planning approach. This year we’re aligning under a small number of organizational Objectives and Key Results (OKRs). 

  • We created five inspirational organizational objectives that link directly to our Intended Impact and Theory of Change.  
  • Beneath each objective, we created two to four key results that are specific and measurable.
  • Each department is creating initiatives that directly support the key results. They are also identifying timing and support needed from other departments. 
  • Cross-functional teams are meeting to review each other’s initiatives, and discuss resource needs and limitations. Together, we are aligning our top priorities and deciding how we can best achieve the key results.  

This last step has been game changing for us. And it emerged from another lesson learned. In the past, we often found ourselves juggling too many priorities and spread too thin. Sound familiar? Departmental initiatives all supported organizational goals, but they weren’t coordinated. We had too many initiatives. Limited resources often led to frustrations and conflicting priorities.    

Now we’re knocking down departmental silos and making decisions together, before committing to a strategic plan. We’re giving ourselves permission to say no to initiatives. Marketing, business development, partner experience, R&D, operations and IT are all aligned. Cross-functional alignment is leading to fewer departmental initiatives that will enable us to make a bigger impact on our customers and partners. This approach is setting us up for success.

Can your credit union benefit from a similar fresh approach to strategic planning? I encourage you to give it some thought.  

This work takes time and some humble introspection. It takes serious commitment and involvement from executive leadership. But it might help take your organization to the next level and set you up for success in a post-COVID world.

Rick Bialobrzeski

Rick Bialobrzeski

Rick is Executive Vice President at GreenPath Financial Wellness, where he has worked since 1996. More than 500 credit unions are partners in GreenPath’s effort to “remix the American ... Web: Details