What happens at a successful strategic planning session
It’s officially the season for strategic planning as credit unions prepare for 2016 and beyond. Whether your credit union chooses to go off site with its team for a retreat or stays at the credit union conference room, there are a few things you definitely don’t want to miss.
Before doing any planning successful credit unions make sure to have these items on their strategic planning session agendas:
- Celebration and encouragement. Before you do any planning for the future, sitting in and celebrating your wins from the current year is the first important step in this very important process for your credit union. What went well? Who were the instrumental players? Is this process repeatable? This step is also important in reflecting on the things that maybe weren’t as successful as they could have been. What went wrong? Why? What did you learn? How would you do it differently? Celebration of success and encouragement is the linchpin to momentum and team alignment.
- Regarding the mission. The next step successful credit unions take in their strategic planning process is to take a hard honest look at their mission, vision and values. This step is vitally important. Not only does it ensure that the credit union is truly living its mission, accomplishing its vision, and delivering on its brand promise to members, it also allows for an honest look at whether these elements really identify what the credit union stands for; strong mission elements put teeth and meaning in your call to action. Have all meeting attendees give their honest opinions and feedback on whether the credit union is in alignment with its mission, vision, and values. If there is inconsistency, spend some time coming up with a more realistic and true set of brand elements to guide the future of your credit union, its decisions, actions, and member experience.
- Hard conversations. The key word here is hard. You’re working on a team with many people you like and respect, yet this critical meeting is a time to talk about the things that are standing in the way of the credit union’s success. A thriving organization not only makes sure it has the right people, but also that the right people are in the right places within the company. If people at any level aren’t buying into the mission and goals of the credit union, or actively or passively undermine its success, they’ve got to get on board or find a new train. The only people welcome on the team are people who are willing to be part of the team. Some questions to ask your team:
- What is getting in the way of serving our members to the best of our ability?
- What have you been dragging your feet on that you know must be done?
- Realistic goal setting. Many credit unions take last year’s goals, add X% and hurriedly rush through this step. This is not a strategy, and it is not goal setting. There are many things you have to look at and do that change at least somewhat from year to year before you ever get to a set of solid goals. Some questions to ask:
- What factors are affecting your credit union’s growth?
- What factors are affecting your members and the community?
- Are there changes that will be affecting your credit union in the next 1-3 years?
- What are the needs of your members and the community?
- Why are your members and potential members going elsewhere for the products you want them to have with your credit union?
- What is the perception of your credit union within the marketplace?
Once you’ve answered these questions, take a look at your recent trends. You need to know where you are and where you’ve been in order to be able to get where you want to go.
All of this information, combined with your credit union’s brand elements and differentiator, will help you get to a set of solid, realistic, and achievable goals to set the bar for next year.
Enjoy the process and the time with your team. Here’s to a successful session and upcoming year.