It’s easy to talk tactics. Everyone has ideas and opinions. I see it often as I facilitate strategic planning sessions. What’s difficult is addressing the elephant in the room and talking about the real challenges that are keeping you from success.
Instead of these questions:
Should we be using Facebook more (or less)? What about the billboards we did a few years ago, should we do those again? Do we need to upgrade our copier? Does the carpet at the branch need to be replaced?
We should be asking these questions:
Are we really clear, as a board and leadership team, about how we are creating value in the marketplace? Can we articulate the few things the organization needs to do better than anyone else in order to deliver on that value proposition (aside from rate and service?) Are we investing enough resources in those areas, and do they fit with most of the products and services we sell?
Why do we focus so much on things that don’t matter, instead of the big questions? Those questions are often avoided because those in the room don’t have an answer, or don’t feel as though they have enough knowledge to answer. As for leaders, they do often ask these questions when they start in their roles but feel constrained by the boundaries handed to them by the board. And, oftentimes, a leader has been in their role for so long they get comfortable enough to not concentrate on those big questions.
Board members and leaders own the responsibility to answer these strategic questions — even if the answers aren’t easy or immediately answered. We have to create the time and opportunity for this debate, and we owe our members and staff answers about why we exist and what we do every day to fulfill that purpose.
Agree with all of the above, but not sure where to start? YMC founder and president Bo McDonald facilitates dozens of strategic planning sessions each year, focused on asking and answering the strategic questions that propel credit unions to growth. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation on how we can help your credit union get unstuck.