“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose…”
Before any strategic planning session gets underway with one of my clients, I like to share this reminder from Dr. Seuss. It not only breaks the ice, but it also breaks down barriers to change.
Being strategic means consistently making those core directional choices that will best move you toward your hoped-for future. This simple definition knits operation and strategy into one cohesive direction for success. If you can create actionable strategy your entire team can understand, you establish communication to power your organization forward.
Like any team sport (including running a successful credit union), diverse thinking builds a better brand. You already commit an insane amount of time and effort to this process. It’s critical and well worth the investment of time (and money for a facilitator that will challenge you to think through the discussions). Here are five tips, that if followed, will lead to a Seussical Strategical Planning Session and a successful 2018:
- Solicit input from a broad array of your members. Include time for surveys, brainstorming, and research to fuel creative thinking and give you the perspective from many different angles (old vs young, new vs old, well off vs not so well off).
- Revisit and refine your Mission. Your mission statement should provide a bright light for your planning. Take the time to work with it. Using your mission statement as a litmus test for “will this discussion help us fulfill our mission” allows you to know what discussions are worth spending time on. Sometimes, it might even force you to examine whether or not your mission statement is still relevant.
- Actively listen to your members. Talk to your folks. There is information that doesn’t fit well on a survey. For instance, hearing someone tell you of their ATM experience or fraud control reveals more than “Are you satisfied with your ATM experience, check on a scale of 1-5.” Remember why you exist and who you are serving. Don’t rely on canned data and information. Bring new facts (and opinions) into your planning session.
- Define 3-5 high- level goals, themes, and/or objectives to define success. Be sure to take the time to whittle down your list to this manageable number. Focus is critical for action. Keep a separate check list called the “filing cabinet.” This will allow you to note non-strategic discussions that need attention, but aren’t necessary as a group discussion during the planning session.
- Define process checkpoints to measure progress. A great strategic plan left on the shelf is meaningless. Inclusive strategy needs to be reviewed regularly to stay on course. Ask your facilitator to do a check in at 90 days and 6 months to discuss successes (and failures). Hold your team accountable for the initiatives from the planning session.
Successful credit unions are driven by passion and commitment coupled with an actionable plan. A clearly defined strategy is the plan that will energize and empower the people in your organization “in any direction you choose.”