The Planning Process - Improved
Nothing is as disappointing, for CEOs and board members alike, as coming off a lengthy planning session with no tangible results. Many credit union leaders are pondering the question of how to host more effective planning sessions and in return gain a more effective strategic plan. For board members to offer proper guidance, they need the proper information and metrics, which they often do not receive. For CEOs, who are tasked with delivering on the strategic plan, they need a robust vision and direction from the board.
Overview for improved plannning
- Strategic planning should be kept simple with a focus on frictionless collaboration between staff and the board
- Areas of interest should likely include risk management, board and staff culture, investing in human capital and improving the member experience
- Use an organizational tool with real-time reporting and presentation-building capability
Questions to get you started in improving the strategic planning process
- Is the planning process unorganized or lacking in tangible results?
- Nobody wants to come from a lengthy planning session, or series of planning sessions, without anything to show for it. Credit unions should consider whether their agendas are too broad, if they lack leaders and contributors, if there is a lack of motivation or, in the case of a facilitator, whether they have too much of an impact or not enough.
- Is your strategic plan too complicated or buried under day-to-day tasks?
- Ideally, strategic plans should be simple and inform staff of an organization’s overall direction. Strategic plans should work in conjunction with an organization’s day-to-day activities, and it should not take a secondary role.
- Could your strategic plan use more accountability?
- Accountability is not the most enjoyable aspect of a strategic plan to develop and review, but it is necessary. Credit unions should ask themselves what mechanisms ensure transparency and accountability in their strategic plans. Are they using key performance metrics judiciously or are they forcing metrics in areas that do not have quantitative factors? Are they keeping track of metrics in areas where numbers do matter?
- How does your strategic plan adapt to change?
- For credit unions, change happens on a daily basis. A strategic plan that is not able to adapt to change is one that is quickly outdated. The financial services space is fertile ground for disruption and innovation. Specifically, consumers are looking for speed, convenience, security, service and value from credit unions. To meet these needs, financial institutions must stay in a state of constant change, and that means keeping the strategic plan as nimble as possible — and staying entrepreneurial.
- What tools are you utilizing to draft and execute on your strategic plan?
- Certain tools and resources can help immensely in developing and executing on a strategic plan. Hiring an outside consultant can be useful, but many companies are switching over to an internal, software-led approach.
A software-led approach
Typically, keeping track of a complex and evolving strategic plan on word processor documents is not enough. Software that helps a credit union’s staff and board visualize the strategic plan can help define roles and keep everyone on track. Being able to update and change plans, monitor progress and ensure accountability is also very much in demand.
The strategic planning process outlines the direction of an organization, so it makes sense to give the process some weight and consideration. However, planners will find that they get out of it what they are willing to put in: an effective strategic plan takes effort and the right tools.
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