Even strategic planning sessions are not immune to the impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
As many credit unions continue to hold their regular board meetings virtually, they’re also preparing to hold annual strategic planning sessions in a similar fashion.
Nymeo Federal Credit Union in Frederick, Md., will conduct strategic planning sessions at each board meeting—which are already held virtually—until September, when the board will convene for a three-and-a-half hour virtual strategic planning session, says Victoria Johnston, president/CEO of the $293.6 million asset credit union.
“The only real change for Nymeo in strategic planning is that the meetings are virtual,” Johnston says. “We dedicate a large portion of our board meeting agenda each month to strategic planning.”
Whether strategic planning sessions are held virtually or in person, end goal is the same: to create a plan that builds financial, member, and experiential value for the credit union.
Jeff Rendel, president of Rising Above Enterprises, offers four ways to ensure a successful planning session:
1. Read up. Be a student of the industry. Subscribe to email news feeds and review state and national trade association websites. Join webinars, attend conferences, and earn certifications when resources allow.
2. Shape the agenda. Before the meeting, survey board members to determine what topics, trends, and opportunities they would like to discuss. Look for common themes in the responses and incorporate three or four issues into the agenda.
While educational in purpose, you may also discover the board’s areas of interest coincide with or further develop strategic initiatives.
3. Think forward. Last year’s results are in the books. Next year’s outcomes should be in the works.
Instead of focusing on how your credit union serves its current membership, focus on how it should serve its future membership.
4. Expect evolutionary change. Business models rarely switch overnight, but continuous improvement in access, delivery, engagement, and marketing remains constant. A consistent approach to renewal and reinvestment keeps your credit union top of mind—and wallet.
To achieve evolutionary change, both leadership and board members must adopt an innovative mindset and actively pursue innovative goals, says Stacie VanDenBerghe, CEO of CU Innovate.
Look at why you are doing what you are doing at the credit union, and ask whether it makes sense. Decisions should be future-focused instead of based on who your credit union used to be or originally served, VanDenBerghe says.
Challenge your longstanding practices and assumptions.
Credit union leaders and board members should recognize that “failure to grow” is the price of not keeping pace with members.
When credit unions don’t make ongoing investments in technology and digital services, they risk falling so far behind they can’t afford the capital investment required to catch up, Rendel says.
Monitoring the changing landscape and building it into the strategic plan can help credit unions avoid this fate.
Acknowledge members’ experiences with services like Amazon Prime, Rendel says, and how those experiences are raising expectations for all organizations.
“Look at how the average consumer goes about his or her business,” Rendel says. “If they have a great digital or in-person experience, they carry the same expectation into the next retail business they go to. You have to think like a member all the time.”