Strategic planning is one of the most important things your financial institution does. It’s unfortunate that so many planning sessions result in chaos, unproductive decision making and a plan that serves as a paper weight instead of guiding the organization to success. Something this important should be successful every single time. Use these three Fs of strategic planning to help improve your planning process.

Funnel – The most effective planning sessions are the ones that start with big ideas and end with specific goals and defined action plans. Think of the process like a funnel – wide or broad at the top and narrower at the bottom. As you work your way toward the bottom of the funnel, you increase the amount of detail at each level should have a clear strategy at the end. Read more about this approach in Leading for Growth by Umpqua Bank CEO Ray Davis.

Focus –  Contrary to many businesses which believe they need to be all things to all consumers, we believe financial institutions become more successful by focusing on what they do best. This philosophy is spelled out in The Myth of Excellence. Focus less on what the competition is doing and more on what is important to your customers and members. On the Mark Strategies uses this approach in the planning sessions we conduct for banks and credit unions.

Read about the third “F” in my monthly newsletter. Using all three Fs greatly improves your planning process.

Also in the newsletter, you’ll find information about marketing audits and the importance of catering to your local customers or members when you have branches in different parts of the state or in different states completely.