Mistakes and lessons
What are the biggest mistakes CUs make in their strategic planning sessions and what lessons can be learned as a result? CU Journal consulted a panel of experts during CUNA’s recent America’s Credit Union Conference in Las Vegas to get their insights.
David Frankil, NJCUL
David Frankil, president and CEO of the New Jersey Credit Union League
The biggest mistake when doing a planning session is getting people from the board and the organization together behind closed doors and sitting there thinking great thoughts. But that’s it. Strategic planning has to be grounded in reality. The discussions need to be member-focused. You have to get real feedback from the marketplace. You have to ask the tough questions and listen closely to the responses you get. Ask members and non-members: What are we doing right? What do you want us to do? It helps the credit union when you find out what members and non-members agree on.
Donna Ogorek - CUJ 070717.JPG
Donna Ogorek, VP of marketing and business development for $350 million Sooper CU, Arvada, Colo.
It is really important during strategic planning that decision makers have all the right people in the room. That may not always be the C-suite. Strategic planning depends on marketing to provide the means for disruptive innovation, so marketing needs a bigger seat at the table to effectively fulfill the needs of the organization. I know of some credit unions that treat marketing as an afterthought at strategic planning sessions.
Jeff York, former president and CEO of CoastHills Credit Union
Jeff York, president and CEO, $1 billion CoastHills CU, Lompoc, Calif.
The biggest mistake is using short-term thinking during what should be long-term planning. We need to push out as far out as we can think. At our credit union, seven years ago we said we wanted to be $2 billion in assets. The subsequent discussions we had were not about being big, they were about the decisions we needed to make to grow. We had to make fundamental decisions about our business. If you don’t look ahead you miss the curve.
Mark Cummins - CUJ 070717.JPG
Mark Cummins, president and CEO of the Minnesota CU Network and chairman of the American Association of Credit Union Leagues
The biggest mistake is they don’t have strategic discussions. We avoid conflict and avoid serious issues. We have to talk about the truly strategic issues that need to be dealt with, and those are different for every credit union.
Stephanie Sievers is CEO of Star of Texas Credit Union
Stephanie Sievers, president and CEO of $105 million Aneca FCU, Shreveport, La.
The biggest mistake is made by credit unions that assume they know what their members want. They need to ask their members what they want, and they need to do so before starting their strategic planning. A good way to do this is to host focus groups. Bring in random groups of members to talk. It is a win-win situation, because if a member has a gripe you can invite him or her back to next year’s focus group to ask if improvements have been made.