Sept. 5, 2017


  • Good information. On Target. And most larger, progressive CUs do follow most of this advice. The question is how do you get those 3,000+ CUs that for whatever reasons have not made this leap at the Board level. I speak at three to 4 CU training conferences per year. Mostly Board member, and many Board members still don't get the fact that they should be leading the strategic direction of their organizations. After the last twenty or more years of Regulators, consultants (Myself Included) and even the leagues and CUNA/NAFCU hammering Boards not to be tactical, most board members get and subscribe to that. However, I still see a lot of confusion between Strategic and Tactical with Board members. And I literally hear from Board members that it is not their job to "tell" management "what" to do. Yet, I believe this author and I would agree that that is exactly what a board should be focused on. "Results!" "What" results the Board expects from management. And the two or three seemingly universal issues all CUs have: (1) Growth - Members, Assets, Loans (income) (2) Maintain/Improve Member Service (which always involve discussions of Staff/Mgt., Technology and Facilities) (3) Improve/Maintain Safety and Soundness (I.e. Financial stability, minimize Regulatory/Examiner issues). I see a common reluctance, especially in smaller and Mid-size CU Boards to insist that things get done. They truly believe that a Board that says to management, “you must resolve this issue” (Whatever the issue), is a tactical or micromanaging. It is not! That is true direction, and just because statements like that addresses something tactical - Such as: (1) You Must Resolve...Our lack of income - Come to us with at least three things that we are not doing today that could improve our bottom line. (2) Lack of Membership Growth - Come to us with at least three things that we are not doing today that could improve our Lack of membership Growth. Etc. . .Boards, step up, insist on success.
    Walt Agius
  • As a new board member I have encountered and been frustrated by the scenarios you refer to. Instead of dealing with accountability for fulfilling strategy, we spend most of our time reviewing the minutiae of the monthly financials. While such oversight is needed when disparities exist, I feel that these powerpoints can be the thickest of weeds at times. Thank you both for your insight.
    Les Henderson
  • Thank you both, Walt and Les, for your comments. As a frequent board consultant myself, I find the best results come from a combination of factors. 1) A CEO and either Board Chair or Board Members who understand things are not working. 2) Time spent approaching the issue from an experiential and quasi-educational angle, such as a review of governance models, a strategic visioning exercise, or a simulation. And 3) the ability to engage Board Members respectfully but firmly as they try to pivot back into their comfort zone. This is rarely something a CEO or Board Member can deal with on their own, and unaddressed, it impedes the kind of progress for membership that could and would be achieved if not for the lack of Board self-governance.
    Chris Howard