Fall strategic planning sessions are on the calendar for many credit unions by now. Some credit unions will use these sessions to review and confirm the organizational path determined in prior year’s meetings. Others are looking to their 2006 session as a starting point for a new direction for their credit union. Regardless of the objective, holding planning sessions has become a regular occurrence for most credit unions.
Why are resources, time, and intellectual capital devoted to this process by credit unions each year? Is it a meaningful process that will have real impact on an organization’s results or simply an annual exercise that is put on the calendar?
Certainly the answer to these questions varies by credit union. Some sessions are more successful and actionable than others. However, a successful planning session can set the stage for growth and momentum within an organization. To accomplish this, the desired outcomes of the session first need to be determined.
Strategy is ultimately about growth. It involves clarifying the key drivers of success in the competitive environment, identifying growth opportunities, and determining and improving on core competencies to take advantage of these growth opportunities. To understand these aspects, credit unions need to examine their competition, their market/members’ needs, and their own organization. To then turn strategy into actionable results, the credit union should address the following in their planning session:
- Affirm a common vision for the organization
- Define success for the organization
- Confirm the credit union’s competitive advantage
- Identify key performance measures
One way of tackling these objectives is to answer these questions:
- What are our values?
- What are our goals?
- How will we compete?
- How will we know if we are successful?
Gaining consensus on these questions is not always easy, but it leads to a clearer vision of the credit union’s future that should engage and excite management and staff. In an era in which the lines between credit unions and their competition is becoming less clear in many consumers’ minds, it is increasingly important that credit unions devote time to answering these questions and determine how they will deliver a distinct value proposition to the market.
To learn more about approaches to strategic planning and mechanisms that organizations have used to convert plans into action, please join our webinar, A Roadmap to Success: Effective Strategic Planning Processes.