Successful Agendas for Strategic Planning Sessions

As credit unions make preparations for upcoming strategic planning sessions, integrating the strategic framework into the structure of their agenda can increase the likelihood of a productive and enjoyable session. Here are two such examples of successful agendas and a look at why they work so well.


It's that time of year again. Management and directors across the country are beginning to think about their upcoming annual strategic planning sessions. Last week's article, "The Competitive Triangle and the Importance of Strategic Planning", set the strategic framework for a planning model that focuses on identifying and enhancing an organization's sustainable competitive advantage; this week we'll look at how that framework can be implemented into an effective planning session agenda.

The model used by Callahan's is a three phase outside-in approach that begins with a review of the local environment to identify growth opportunities, while accounting for market forces and competitors. Once opportunities have been identified, the strategy turns inward to look at the credit union strengths and weaknesses, and asks if key processes are in place to support the chosen competitive advantage. The last part is to select the strategic option most compatible with the credit union's capabilities and to set performance goals and action plans.

With some foresight, credit unions can integrate this model into the structure of their planning session agenda. Two hypothetical examples are presented here.

In this first example, the initial three sections address the environmental phase of the model, assessing the marketplace and the competition to identify opportunities. Steps four and five look inward at the credit union and its vision to try to answer the strategic questions of what are feasible goals to accomplish, how they can be measured, and what can be done to "thrust" those goals forward into a competitive advantage. The last three steps focus on the operational aspect of prioritizing and implementing the strategic goals.

This second example is less detailed than the previous one but still follows the same general model. The first two sections start out with the broad overview, looking at the credit union in relation to the market and competitors. Next, the third step looks inward at the credit union, and is focused on creating strategic three-part "end" statements about their strategic opportunities describing what they will do, who they will do it for, and at what cost. The fourth step addresses operational and implementation issues while examining how to create a monitoring system that management and the board can use to assess their progress.

Preparing for a successful strategic planning session doesn't have to be a stressful, time consuming process. Callahan's comprehensive Strategic Guide to Budgeting has all the resources you need to tackle a year's worth of board meetings and strategic planning sessions, including five years of custom historical data plotting your credit union against your peer group in areas like productivity, market penetration, safety & soundness and growth. The guide also includes an overview of key business challenges facing the credit union industry as well as strategic step-by-step development of budget and operating expense projections. Click here for more information.




Aug. 16, 2004


  • What rule requires FICU's to conduct a planning session?
  • Strategic planning too often lends itself to buzz words when it should lend itself to actionable items. I better know what it means to think strategically before I start my strategic planning - how do I get past the "thinking" and get to the "doing?"
  • Thank you. Good stuff.