It’s Time to Take Your Strategic Plan Off the Shelf

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How long has it been since your last strategic planning event? Six months? Four months? Several weeks? Perhaps a better question would be, what strategic discussions have you had with your team since that planning session? Have you completed any tasks that get you closer to achieving your goals in 2019?

Recently, I decided to do a little research on what keeps organizations from achieving success as defined in their strategic plan. Needless to say, the results were not surprising. Care to guess the number one reason strategic plans fail and status quo persists? That’s right, lack of follow through. The failure to clearly define what success looks like came in a close second.

Accountability: The Key to Strategic Success These findings confirm what my clients have been telling me over the past few years: having a plan and working a plan are two very different things. And while many leaders understand the importance of action, many fail to put that knowledge into practice. In fact, a recent survey by AchieveIt suggests as many as 90 percent of strategic plans are never implemented, which leads to rather predictable underperformance. These results raise the question: When it comes to working your credit union’s strategic plan, who’s holding your board, leadership, and internal team accountable?

There’s that word again. Accountable. We use it regularly in strategic planning sessions, but rarely around the office. Why? Because it’s far easier to point fingers or make excuses than to look in the mirror and admit, “I just didn’t do it.” If you’ve effectively shelved your strategic plan and done nothing with it since your last planning session, don’t worry. 2019 is still fresh. You still have time. Here are a few tips to help you get back on track and find the success you’re looking for this year:

  1. Communicate. Since we can’t seem to get it right at home (one out of every two marriages ends in divorce, often because of poor communication) what makes us think we can get it right at work? If you’ve stashed your strategic plan under a rock after you left the boardroom last year, it’s time to pull it back out and share it with your entire team—from frontline tellers to C Suite executives. Whether your team is large or small, a clear communication plan is essential to your success. “Lack of communication” is consistently ranked as one of the top 10 reasons strategic plans fail to gain traction or produce the desired results.
  2. Leadership. Communication involves more than visual images and spoken instructions. As the old saying goes, “Actions speak louder than words.” If the leadership team refuses to follow the strategy they developed, choosing instead to operate with a “Do as I say, not as I do” mentality, failure is almost certain. This kind of inconsistency often stems from a lack of accountability and leads to other leadership failures such as poor follow-through, ineffective reward systems, improper resource allocation, inability to get organizational buy-in, and a habit of covering up shortcomings. While the responsibility for these failures ultimately falls on the person with leadership title, every team member can play a role in correcting the problem. No matter where we fall on the organizational chart, we all have a chance to lead.
  3. No plan. “It’s a strategic plan. What do you mean there’s no plan?” It’s a logical question, but it misses the point. In reality, what most people consider great plans aren’t really plans at all. They’re fancy documents packed with impressive buzzwords and high-level ideas. They’re the result of strategic planning sessions that focus all their time and energy on crafting clever statements and objectives. Unfortunately, these sessions usually end before they create an actionable plan, leaving nothing more than a list of undeveloped intentions. If there are no tasks identified and no owners assigned to those tasks, there are no practical ways to hold anyone accountable. Being unable to break a project down into practical action steps was also listed in the top 10 reasons that strategic plans fail.

You Don’t Have to Figure It Out On Your Own
Don’t let past failures discourage you. Things aren’t as hopeless as they might seem. There are dozens of financial institutions and other organizations succeeding this year. They’ve started 2019 strong by accomplishing action items that lead them closer to the results they set out to achieve this year. We’ve helped these organizations gain perspective on their “why,” uncover the needs of their ideal consumer, and discover what held them back in the past.

On top of that, we’ve guided them through the process of defining what success looks like for their organization, developing a plan to push through any barriers, and assigning task ownership to team members who can be held accountable. Oh yeah, we’ve also promised to follow up at regular intervals after the planning session to hold everyone accountable. As you can see, success is truly a team effort!

If 2019 is off to a slow start and your strategic plan is collecting dust on the shelf, maybe our team can help you too! Whether it’s kickstarting your existing plan or facilitating your strategic planning event later this year, we’re eager to help you achieve the kind of success that dozens of other financial institutions and organizations have found by working with us!

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Reh Harvey

Vice President of Digital Strategy

Reh Harvey, our Vice President of Digital Strategy, leads with diligence and fervor. Having previously been a member of Team YMC, he is excited to return to such an amazing culture and even more amazing people (his words)! Through his experience in the marketing world, he’s found the key to success is to stay on the cutting edge and to always keep evolving.
 
Although originally drawn to marketing for its lack of math, Reh now finds himself doing more math than he would’ve bargained for. But his self discipline and positive attitude make it easy for him to laugh and take it in stride. Hoping to one day visit Japan and enjoy some premium Sushi, Reh lives life by his creed: Be a good human. Do good work. And above all, just keep going.

Hailey Madej

Graphic Designer

As YMC’s in-house Graphic Designer, Hailey possesses an eye for detail and a drive to innovate. It’s no surprise though since being creative runs in the family! Inspired from an early age by her mom’s work as a Graphic Designer, Hailey is a seasoned expert whose talents bring vitality and accessibility to every project. As a UX/UI designer, she expertly blends the intuitive and the creative for all to enjoy.
 
In addition to the occasional freelance project, Hailey also lends her abilities to supporting art initiatives within her community, such as the Belleville Mural Project. Her favorite aspect of joining the YMC team is the friendly, uplifting culture and breadth of design tasks. When it comes to marketing, she believes in pushing boundaries and maybe breaking some rules to capture her audience’s attention. Her advice to those just starting out? “Always seek quality over quantity.”

Dexter Ochoa

Development Assistant

When it comes to blending logical thinking and creative problem solving, Dexter’s abilities are undeniable! Beginning his career as a Web Developer, he’s no stranger to the wide world of Marketing and Advertising. Calling Biñan City in the Philippines home, Dexter has a burning desire to visit the Alpine peaks and valleys of Switzerland. While that journey may be far off, he is still no stranger to international travel. While visiting Japan, he was able to enjoy his favorite delicacy: Sushi and Sashimi. He also learned unexpected facts about Japanese Yen, specifically that it has special markings for the blind to know its value!

Living life by his motto to “Do good even if the world is unfair,” Dexter would also advise his younger self, “It’s hard, but you’re doing good!” Whether he’s enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning or the occasional Pale Pilsen in the evening, Dexter is eager to work with the talented professionals of YMC, and we’re just as eager to add his talent to the team as well! His marketing words of wisdom? “Be creative, and just do what you want!”

Andrew Wyche

Copywriter

Hailing from the NC state capital (that’s Raleigh if you didn’t know), Andrew is YMC’s Copywriter extraordinaire. That’s why he knows that “The verb form of ‘reconnaissance’ is ‘reconnoiter.’ The former is, strictly speaking, a noun.” Seriously, he knows his words and he’ll use those words to get bold and weird (in a good way) with his copy. Fuelled by a love for pasta, shellfish, a good single malt, or a meal consisting of all three, Andrew navigates life with a motto engraved in his heart: “Choose kindness. Always.” It is this guiding principle that has led him to explore the realm of marketing, driven by a desire to connect with people in meaningful ways. As he continues to chase his dreams, one bucket list item stands out above the rest – a pilgrimage to Scotland. With his heart set on adventure and his pen poised for creativity, Andrew’s journey is far from over.

Alex VanHaasteren

Senior Web Developer

Alex is YMC’s Senior Web Developer and, as the title suggests, she is an absolute pro! While she initially started in graphic design – working long and hard to expertly bring concepts to life – she also felt drawn to technology and applying her natural ability to problem solve. Web Development proved the perfect blend of her creative passion and technical savvy.

When Alex is out with friends – including her YMC colleagues – she’s up for Greek cuisine or some good pulled pork BBQ washed down with Diet Coke. Or an Old Fashioned, if the occasion demands. Someday, she hopes to go to Africa on a safari. Hopefully she’ll see a giraffe in the wild, because – as she’s pointed out – its neck is too short to reach the ground!

When she isn’t jamming out to T-Swift, she’s happy to impart some marketing words of wisdom, “Aim to create something unforgettable.” For day-to-day inspiration, she would remind you of two fundamental truths: You decide your happiness, and Ice cream is its own food group—not just a dessert.

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