I think Questions 1 and 2 are the principal ones. Here is how I would respond to them:
Question 1: What are the key issues the Board needs to be considering at their planning retreat?
At their retreat the Board should avoid focusing solely on financials, but rather look to values that have driven the credit union to this point and to opportunities that the new structure provides. It should ask itself: “How can our core values carry through to our new identity?” and “What are going to be our opportunities in the future?”
It might use these tactics:
1. Study three credit unions that have faced like circumstances, notably their FOM changes, tactics in re-branding, and the results after three years.
2. Set three one-year goals. In Year 1, make the change; In Year 2, sell the core value over and over; and in Year 3, capitalize on one new component made available because of the change.
3. Contrast the current organization’s SOPs with those of the envisioned organization. Concentrate on skill sets and the best way to attain new core competencies while being faithful to the existing employee base.
Question 2: Given the state of the industry today, what options (strategic and tactical) should Sam be presenting to her Board for consideration?
Here is how I would advise Sam:
Avoid state-of-the-industry big-picture conversations and focus on the credit union’s members and communities; this is about Sam’s organization not the industry. Stress a facilities and point-of-member contact vision. Propose a diverse model for facilities based on a corporate HQ, leased branches, shared branches, and partnerships for working with members.
Concentrate on the best options in the four states; analyze each marketplace separately. Look for ways to understand how the members in each state are likely to react to the upheaval in the corporation, their own fears, and their hopes for the credit union locally. Remember: Members will worry about their lives first; the credit union is going to have to be there for them to meet their needs. And don’t delay: As quickly as possible, create a new face locally and vest everyone at the credit union with the local commitment.
Go retail, retail, retail with the branches using low-cost leasing and as much shared branching and point-of-sale relationships as possible.
Divide the opportunities into categories that would best respond to:
Direct branded credit union services
Virtual branded credit union services
Shared credit union services
Point-of-sale credit union services
Take each area’s opportunities and brainstorm what you would do as if you were starting four distinct operations, then blend the local branding strategies with the new overall corporate core strategy. The main question to ask would be: “What would be different and what consistent among these strategies and how could we field a team that vested the credit union locally – no matter the direction of the corporate sponsor – while still maintaining a larger perspective of coordinating the four areas?”