Strategy or execution: What’s more important to your credit union’s success?

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Research has shown that only about 8% of leaders excel at both strategy and execution. So, with limited resources at your credit union, which is more important to your success? Of course, the answer is: BOTH!

But how?

Credit union strategic planning sessions that ask these two questions “What are we great at?” and “What are we able to achieve?” is a step toward successful strategy and execution. Instead of coming up with big visions and asking already task-saturated teams to take on more, start small with those two questions.

Another reason to start small is your budget. Execution is often delayed because, ‘We just don’t have the budget for it.’ Linking your budget to the strategy is essential. I always tell my team, “Never say I didn’t have time; instead say it wasn’t a priority,” and see how fast the important things start getting done over the urgent fires. The same goes for budget. If you identify something as a priority but never fund it, is it truly a priority? You may have to experience some necessary endings and shut the door on some legacy products, services or other budgetary items to make room for the new, more important items that will make and keep your credit union relevant.

Finally, how about your team? Do they know the strategy and vision for where your credit union is going? As a leadership team you can be bought in and budget accordingly, but without the team behind you pushing in the same direction the execution of your strategy is doomed to fail. You’ll need to tap into the various skills on your team, as well as getting buy-in from them.

Can you focus on both strategy and execution at your credit union? You sure can. Howard Schultz, former Starbucks CEO is a great example of a leader who can do both and do both very well. He had a vision for Starbucks to be more than a coffee shop. His vision was for Starbucks to be a comfortable place to spend time beyond just grabbing a cup of coffee and heading on about your day. It started with a vision, which lead to creating a strategy, and then executing that strategy.

In a recent Harvard Business Review interview, Schultz had this to say about retail strategy execution: “You can walk into [any type of retail store] and you can feel whether the proprietor or the merchant or the person behind the counter has a good feeling about his product. If you walk into a department store today, you are probably talking to a guy who is untrained; he was selling vacuum cleaners yesterday, and now he is in the apparel section. It just does not work.”

So, here’s your gut punch question: How do members feel when they walk into your credit union or interact virtually with your credit union. Do they get a good feeling about your brand, or are they talking to that guy who was selling vacuum cleaners yesterday?

If polishing your vision, creating a strategy, and executing that strategy is the next step in growing your credit union we can help. For more than 15 years, Your Marketing Co. has partnered with hundreds of credit unions to create and execute credit union marketing strategies that help credit unions educate, engage and retain the next generation of credit union members.

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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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