Taking a holistic approach to strategy

What if your next visit to the doctor involved only a single line of questioning that went something like this:

How much did you make last year?

What did you spend it on?

How will you make more next year?

You’d probably decide it was time to find a new doctor. After all, none of these questions have to do with your physical health. They’re pretty narrowly focused and they aren’t geared toward finding a solution to whatever’s ailing you.

A good physician will ask questions that reach beyond your physical heath. By understanding your mental, emotional and even spiritual well-being, a physician is better able to make an informed diagnosis and develop a treatment plan that will truly address your needs.

Now apply this same scenario to your credit union’s strategic planning efforts. Do you focus only on the numbers, reviewing your income, expenses and plans for increasing revenue? These are all valid questions to benchmark your credit union’s performance, but the finances are only one part of your credit union’s story.  Taking a holistic approach that goes beyond a single line of questioning will lead to a more successful diagnosis of your challenges and lead to a more strategic “get well” plan.

Let’s put on a lab coat and see what your credit union looks like from a physical, mental, emotional and spiritual perspective.

1. Physical: delivery of product/services

Delivery channels (i.e. branches, online, mobile) are the tangible part of the credit union. They’re physical in the sense that they allow you to reach out and “touch” your members.  Each of these channels delivers a member experience and serves as a conduit between member and credit union.

To understand how healthy your credit union is from a physical standpoint, look at data such as:

Channel usage

  • What is the age, income and balances of the members who use each channel?
  • What are the majority of transactions performed?

Channel effectiveness

  • What are the process times for transactions?
  • Drop off points: where is process started but not finished?

2. Mental: financial and competitive performance

Your credit union’s financial performance and performance compared to competitors are the mental aspects of your overall health. In order to be in a good place, you have to think critically about the details of your performance and identify areas for improvement. Reviewing your financial performance helps create standard benchmarks as well as develop forecasts for budgets. Competition comparison provides insights on product development and member demand, both of which are critical to future member engagement and growth.

3. Emotional: the people aspect

Employees are the biggest resource your credit union has. No matter how great a strategy looks on paper, it will only be as good as your staff’s ability and willingness to implement it. To understand how healthy this aspect of your credit union is, it’s important to evaluate your staff’s competencies and how well they fit within your organization.

Leveraging the people into the best roles is definitely more of an art than a science. That’s why the people aspect is the emotional aspect of your credit union’s health. Data can help you diagnose your credit union from a quantitative perspective, while evaluating employee strengths and weaknesses helps you understand the qualitative reasons for your overall performance.

4. Spiritual: the member experience

The member experience is composed of more than just the objective data you see about their use of products, services and delivery channels. It’s also a very subjective individual experience: the thoughts, feelings and responses each member has when they think about their interactions with the credit union. This complete experience is the key to both sustaining current members and attracting new members.

Critical areas you’ll want to evaluate include Net Promoter Score and product/service usage by lifestyle demographic. What do your members like about you? What do they like about the competition? What can you do to improve the credit union-member relationship? Understanding how your credit union connects with members at a higher level than simple product/service usage data will provide context for effective strategic planning.

Evaluating the credit union in a holistic and comprehensive way can provide deeper insights that enable you to develop more effective strategies and build a stronger credit union that prospers not only today but also tomorrow.

Anne Legg

Anne Legg

Anne Legg, founder and principal of THRIVETM Strategic Services THRIVE works with credit unions to develop transformational business strategies from their business insights to grow in a competitive, highly regulated ... Web: https://www.anneleggthrive.com Details