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Successful Strategic Compass Includes Input from All Directions

By Keith Hughey, Senior Consultant

If credit unions and banks have learned one thing from the economic and regulatory challenges of the past few years, it is that change is inevitable. From a strategic planning prospective, the ideas and processes that seemed to make so much sense a few years ago—perhaps even a few months ago—may not be nearly as effective today.

For an organization to be successful in the future, decisions made on a historical or emotional basis must give way to an inclusive process that combines the perspectives and best ideas of as many stakeholders as possible.

Gone are the days when the management team and board members could get away for an off-premises strategic planning retreat to play at charting the course for the next three to five years. Likewise, one is ill-advised to pen a strategic document based on a leadership-only, 30,000-feet-perspective. Today, you need information from the staff as well as other stakeholders who experience first-hand what actually happens in the facility and marketplace.

And the best organizations make sure they repeatedly communicate the plan to the employees who are tasked with implementing the proposed actions and changes.

While it is imperative for management and the board to be on the same page regarding the overall direction the institution will take going forward, effective strategic planning requires a more balanced perspective.

To do this properly, organizational leaders should gather feedback about how current products, policies and procedures are working and what changes might be made, based on the input of non-management personnel. And if a strategic planning process is to produce results, it must be shared in ways that ensure all staff members understand their individual role in contributing to the plan and making it work.

Though not all staff input will be strategic in nature, the tactical ideas provided by those on the front line can provide valuable input relative to operational needs and inefficiencies, not to mention crucial feedback they receive from the all-important members you serve.

Only after gathering input from everyone should management review all of the ideas to determine which ones have merit, are feasible and should be made part of the plan. From there, a plan can be established for reaching your long-term goals.

By making an effort to gather feedback from all stakeholders and implement as many ideas as possible, leadership can gain the trust and involvement of credit union and bank team members. In turn, they will continue to share valuable perspectives about what it will take to keep the organization working effectively.

To learn more about making the most of your strategic plan, contact Keith Hughey at Keith.Hughey@JMFA.com or 800-809-2307.