It’s that time of year when organizations are closing out 2019 and looking toward 2020 with commitment and determination, paving the way for additional growth. More often than not, credit unions are performing annual organizational evaluations and developing annual strategic plans. In the past, bi-annual strategic plans were enough, but in today’s competitive and ever-changing marketplace, it’s more important than ever to have a solid strategic direction year over year, or at the very least, to monitor results and adjust your goals annually. Before you embark on the strategic planning process, consider completing the exercises below (Hint: this is a good exercise for your management team):
1. Determine the value of having a strategic plan. Strategy means different things to different organizations.
2. Decide whether you need a long-range plan or a shorter-term plan.
- Why does your company value having a strategic plan in place? (Is it to communicate your message? Establish priorities? Is it so your staff has a unified vision? To simplify decision-making?) Find your reason.
Annual plans aren’t for everyone. Perhaps your organization has a long-range plan to expand into new markets, but you know this process will take longer than 12 months. A 3-5 year strategic plan may be better suited for financial institutions whose goals are of wider scope. But don’t lose sight of managing annual performance towards your goals.
3. Establish responsibility and accountability for plan implementation.
- Make a list of reasonable goals that can be completed in a 12-month time frame, and those that you believe are more long-range goals. Evaluating how many of each type that you have can help you determine which kind of plan will best suit your needs. A hybrid of both long-range and short-term plans works well for some organizations.
4. Elect to choose an outside facilitator/mediator or use an internal resource for your planning session. (Hint: There are benefits to both.)
Exercise (choose one):
- How will your plan be implemented?
- Who will be responsible for each objective?
- Who will ultimately be held accountable for overseeing the implementation and measurement of the strategic plan (i.e., CEO, Board, Executive Management, all levels of management, etc).
5. Determine what your strategic plan should include.
- In-House Facilitation: Bringing the strategic planning process in-house provides the benefit of having someone lead the process who knows your brand, your previous goals, your successes and your failures, and can be the one to steer you in the direction of continued growth.
- Third Party Facilitation: Utilizing a third party to facilitate your strategic planning will provide a unique point of view, bring new and innovative ideas to the table, and force you to think outside of the box. This also allows for optimum participation from all levels of management and board of directors and can broaden your horizons. Strategic planning facilitators often bring diverse industry knowledge and market research, which can help when assessing your competitive landscape.
6. A Year in review: How did your organization perform in 2019?
- Do you need to determine core values, vision and mission?
- Is a branding plan needed?
- Are you simply looking for a singular organizational vision?
- Do you want to tackle the metrics in your strategic planning session, or simply outline the objectives?
- Will you be adding a Strategic Marketing and/or Business Development Plan that aligns with your organizational goals?
7. Establish how you will track the results of your strategic planning objectives.
- Where can we improve?
- Which successes can we expand upon?
- Is there anything that we left on the table in 2019 that should be addressed in 2020?
- What does success look like to you?
- Which metrics are most important to the success of your organization?
- Consider the not-so-obvious when it comes to quantifying your success (i.e., staff turnover ratio and brand awareness may be more valuable than loan-to-share ratio, or ROA to some businesses.).
If you’ve gotten this far, you clearly recognize the need for a strategic plan (a crucial step in becoming a catalyst for creating buy-in and commitment from your team). After completing the above exercises, your leadership team will be ready to embark on creating your organization’s strategic journey.
Email your completed exercises to firstname.lastname@example.org for free strategic planning analysis and recommendations.