Mistake No. 5: Lack of preparation
Turns out the success of a strategic planning session can hinge on what happens before anyone even sits down at the table. Not having an agenda, not distributing information to be read ahead of time are immediate red flags, Sievewright said. Good pre-work, he said, allows participants to hit the ground running.
“Unless the credit union says, ‘no thank you,’ I always ask that there be some pre-reading,” he explained. “I share articles I value highly, on such topics as technology or serving customers better. I am a fan of [Credit Union National Association’s Environmental Scan (E-Scan)], having been a contributor to that for several years. I often will distribute the chapter I worked on, and if I have enough copies, the whole E-Scan.”
Of course, sometimes the prep work actually is the problem, if the prep work is simply a rehash of what has gone before.
Dr. Brandi Stankovic, a Las Vegas-based credit union consultant with the firm Mitchell, Stankovic & Associates (pictured above), said the biggest mistake CUs make is “doing the same thing in the same place and going after the same goals every year.”
According to Stankovic, what happens in too many cases is the board of directors OKs the same plan every year.
“There is not an effort to go in, see what is relevant, and then shake things up,” she warned. “The strategic plan is required for regulatory review, and CEOs typically are incented for financial performance, so the plan is checked off the list and then the credit union goes back to try to hit financial numbers.”