Dusting Off The Mission Statement

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla.-According to Dan Clark, strategic planning is visionary, while long-range planning is more short-sighted, addressing challenges faced in the coming years. Credit unions tend to do more of the latter, he said.

Strategic planning takes a much broader focus, said the CEO of Dan Clark Associates. "If I have a vision and mission statement, those lead me to what I need to do in 2011. The generic mission statement for all credit unions would be something like 'Helping members get ahead financially'."

Digging Your Way Out

It's time, stressed the former credit union CEO, for CUs to re-examine their mission statements and get back to basics. "The way you get yourself out of an economic downturn is to focus on essentials, and get rid of the overhead that does not pay off for your mission."

That will likely lead credit unions to pay even greater attention to financial coaching and guidance for members, Clark said. "You provide the support members need and build relationships-one-to-one-with middle America, which is what credit unions were originally chartered to do."

What may have gotten in the way of that thinking are management teams that work on a two- to three-year horizon and "get numerical on everything. That is not visionary, that is long-range planning. Long-range planning is taking the forces you can identify and developing measurable goals and tactics to achieve those goals. Real strategic planning is looking for the white space, what's not in that space, and identifying what should be there."

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