Casting Your Board’s Strategic Vision
Strategic planning should consist of ‘less numbers and more ideas.’
Boards take on three distinct roles: as leaders, as partners, and as observers, says Jeff Rendel, CEO of Rising Above Enterprises. “Your chairman’s responsibility is to ensure the board is comfortable with all of these roles,” he adds.
Rendel examines the focus for each role:
1. Leaders cast the vision, select and review the CEO, set strategy and expectations, promote board development and education, and adhere to legal, regulatory, and fiduciary matters.
2. Partners collaborate on strategy and focus, review financial goals and commit to member value, manage risk and allocate resources, develop talent through an active succession plan, and ensure objectives are firm and strategies are fluid.
3. Observers stay out of the way of day-to-day operations, nonstrategic decisions, and anything delegated to the CEO.
- Strategic intelligence involves understanding your competition, members, credit union, current strategy, finances, markets, and technology.
- Strategic thinking requires agility, focus, insights outside of your traditional operations, and purpose.
- Strategic planning demands action, budgets, goals, objectives, timelines, trade-offs, and innovation.
- Strategic execution involves accountability, alignment, commitment, communication, metrics, ownership, and resources.
- Strategic oversight requires agreement, governance, improvement, scorecards, support, and updates.
As you work through this process, he says, add more direction and opportunity to your discussion—and scale back on recaps, reports, and updates.
“Focus on markets, loyalty, and top-line opportunities—and less on percentages, costs, and capabilities,” Rendel says. “Educate directors so they understand the risks and rewards, and focus less on hitting targets for success.”
In other words, “less numbers and more ideas,” Rendel says.
He uses the following example for enhancing your strategic process and discussion: “You can focus on your core area of risk—lending. And then consider adjacent risks, such as any involvement in a credit union service organization. Then seriously look at transformative risks, such as buying a bank to secure more branches. Does your board take those extra strategic steps in its thinking?”
Rendel also advises boards to consider these questions to further strategic discussions:
- What can our credit union be for its members?
- How do we gauge success for our credit union?
- What makes our credit union and its business model unique?
Using different approaches and asking critical questions, Rendel notes, will define and set a vision that:
- Is clear and compelling;
- Is distinctive;
- Creates member and credit union value;
- Defines your credit union’s advantage;
- Fits your credit union and its leadership; and
- Is measurable.
This article initially appeared in Credit Union Directors Newsletter, which provides strategic insights for policy makers. Subscribers can choose to receive the print edition or PDF version.