What’s Wrong and What’s Right with Strategic Thinking

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Skyscpae look out from Airplane windows

Strategic Thinking

Imagine you are in an airplane flying coast-to-coast, cruising at 30,000 feet. There are the mountains and valleys, cityscapes with twinkling lights, barren land and farmland – and let us not forget those little circles on the ground (they are center-pivot irrigation systems, by the way). You can see a lot… albeit a bit of a blur.

Furthermore, if you were on the ground in LeBanon, Kan., you might be able to picture in your mind what the landscape looks like in Fresno, Calif., or Norfolk, Va., but you really can’t see it.

What does each approach have in common? There’s a lack of clarity.

I have sat through various strategic planning sessions. Most facilitators talk at you rather than engage with you. Lots of numbers are shared from a “30,000-foot view.” The SWOT analysis tends to oversimplify things. Goals are written down, but then they are shelved to review the following year. As a result, most credit union executives ask themselves, “Why call in a third-party facilitator when we can do that on our own?”

Stop. Timeout.

Strategic thinking is a highly sought-after skill. It’s just few can master it, and even fewer can teach it.

Here’s what you want in a strategic thinker:

The now and the why. – It’s easy to gloss over the past year, but what’s the meaning behind our numbers? Our operations? Our decisions? Our culture? Why do we do the things that we do? A great strategic thinker won’t accept, “It’s the way we’ve always done it,” as the answer. The old saying, “If you don’t know where you are, then you don’t know where you’re going,” certainly rings true. However, I would add, if you don’t know why… what’s the point?

The future and the why. – A strategic planning session is an opportunity to set goals. A great strategic thinker knows the path to the future is established by the vision and value proposition of the organization. No strategy for the future can save a credit union without a clear vision.

The how and the why. – The true value of having a third-part facilitator is guiding others to think strategically. Not simply handing back a summation of what was discussed in the planning meeting, but leading others to act. Strategic thinkers are in the professional development business. A great one will help develop an action plan, provide encouragement, and coach leadership on how to advance the organization.

If you’ve done your own strategic plan, you know it can be difficult to see beyond the day-to-day and remain accountable to the plan. Or perhaps you’ve outsourced your strategic plan before and felt like you took a plunge without a parachute.

When it comes to strategic planning, we’re talking about your people, your members and your desired outcomes. Your members are counting on you as experts to help them in their financial journey; why shouldn’t you do the same for your organization?

You need real-world solutions. Maybe even a wake-up call. Talk to YMC about your next strategic planning session.

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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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