The planning process begins with evaluating your credit union’s purpose, core values and clearing away any limiting emotional blocks. Once this is done, you can proceed with the remainder of the planning process. You must base your planning on knowledge of the industry, including an analysis of future trends. It is therefore essential to conduct an environmental scan at the onset of this process.
The environmental scan is perhaps the most important element of any strategic planning process. Without developing a good understanding of the current marketplace and future trends, any planning process may well miss the mark. You may not understand member needs well enough, and your products and services may well be outdated, obsolete, or irrelevant. Gaining knowledge of your industry’s market trends will provide a strong foundation upon which to build your organization’s future success.
Planning requires that you create a vision based on market trends, and then set goals and objectives to make that vision a reality. Leaders cannot plan everything by themselves. They must be able to work with a team of people to communicate their vision to others in a way that inspires them to follow their lead and set reachable goals that will lead to the credit union’s future success. Vision in a credit union implies action. It should not be stagnant or fixed; rather, it must motivate people to move the credit union forward.
Your next step is to prioritize your goals and objectives. At this point it’s also very important to perform a reality check. No credit union can do all things or be all things to all people. It is therefore very important to prioritize the goals and objectives based on the following factors:
Do they advance the credit union toward its vision?
Are they doable in the time frame allotted?
Is there enough talent available to execute the plan?
Are there enough resources available during the allotted time period to support the activities?
Assess your commitment. Commitment starts at the top of the credit union. If the leaders are not dedicated to the credit union’s goals and objectives, it is unlikely that staff members will follow and execute the strategic plan in a timely manner. Those who guide the credit union must convey its mission, vision, and core values on a regular basis to make sure everyone knows why the credit union is in business, where it is aiming to go, and what it values.
If your credit union seems to lack focus, it’s your job as the leader to determine if you need to remove any distractions. Is your planning time frame too long? Are too many goals and objectives diluting the ultimate goal? Are there too many or too few people on the execution team? If, for any reason, staff members don’t believe that the goal is attainable, they will most likely give up on it – and move on to something they feel they can realistically accomplish.
The leader must prepare and motivate staff members to endure adversity and weather difficult times. If they don’t receive adequate encouragement, people may give up because the odds seem overwhelming. You need to determine what your people can – and cannot – reasonably accomplish. You also need to be the cheerleader who provides support to your team when things are moving more slowly than anticipated, and keep passion alive for the end vision. Establishing a process of renewal will also help your credit union stay in it for the long haul.
The ultimate goal of the planning process is to create a healthy credit union that is committed to its purpose and core values and has the following characteristics.
A strong credit union identity that provides service to others.
Passion that is felt throughout the credit union.
A compelling vision with workable long-range goals and objectives.
A culture that develops people and values physical assets.
A renewal process in place to enable perseverance during difficult times.
Finally, it’s critical to assess your perseverance! According to Webster’s Dictionary, to persevere means “to persist in the pursuit of an end or enterprise undertaking in spite of counterinfluences, opposition, or discouragement.”
All of this will ultimately produce results and lasting success.