After making the decision to grow a beard, I was taken aback by the large variety of beard care products targeted towards men. It took a while to weed through customer reviews and try out a few before I found a product brand that worked best for me.

After a few months of using this particular brand, I received a series of emails from the company from which I purchased it. To paraphrase, they were retooling their production line to focus more on just a couple of lines of beard balms in order to improve profits and better serve their customers.

Rather than adding products, they were cutting them.

This took a lot of guts. All too often when it comes to strategic planning, banks and credit unions get bogged down in adding new stuff. The real trick to strategic planning is not in adding new things to your agenda, but in finding things that no longer make sense and having the courage to cross those off your list.

This will run contrary to most of what you probably believe about the value of strategic planning. After all, bank and credit union employees feel empowered (and often secretly, overwhelmed) leaving a strategic planning session with a bevy of new to-do items on their list. What you must keep in mind, however, is you will never fully realize the value and potential of a targeted strategic plan unless you are willing and able to take a hard look at the things you must stop doing.

These “not-to-do” items will vary from place to place. For some, it may be eliminating unnecessary reports that generate little value and low readership. For others, it might be admitting that some past ideas from strategic planning sessions just aren’t coming to fruition and crossing those off the list.

Only you know for sure what these items are for your specific financial institution. However, I’ll give you good odds that every bank and credit union has at least a few things they can cross off its strategic planning to-do list. Have that tough inner conversation and share it with your strategic planning teammates. You’ll be surprised at the results.