Community Bank and Credit Union Strategic Planning Isn’t Just a Day on the Calendar

Mark Arnold
Community Bank and Credit Union Strategic Planning Isn’t Just a Day on the Calendar

Many institutions are submitting consultation requests for community bank and credit union strategic planning sessions this fall. As dates fill up, the conversations become increasingly centered around the calendar…what dates work and what dates don’t.

And a date is necessary to have the session, but the session is not about the date. Too often, community financial institutions treat strategic planning as just a day on the calendar.

But it’s a process.

You must build a plan you actually use. A plan must do more than satisfy an NCUA requirement or fulfill a yearly tradition. It must do more than collect dust on a shelf.


A Session Geared Toward Functionality


Part of treating community bank and credit union strategic planning like a process is creating something realistic. Many planning sessions sadly become “splurge days,” where leaders throw everything at the wall, wrap it up, put a bow on top and call it a plan. It’s unsurprising these plans wind up unused. 

A process-oriented plan is functional. You can use it every day.

That means several things:

  1. The planning session doesn’t beat you over the head with data.
  2. The planning session focuses on a vision and what goals help you achieve it.
  3. The plan has three-to-five goals (keeping things manageable and realistic).
  4. The plan is concise, readable and understandable outside of the boardroom.

These traits make the plan a tool rather than a formality. It’s a roadmap guiding you along…and here’s that word again…the process of achieving your long-term vision.


Stay on the Wagon


Let’s say you develop an incredible, practical plan. All done, right? Wrong!  

Your community bank and credit union strategic planning work continues throughout the year as you (hopefully) progress toward your goals. “Hopefully” is a good word to mention because it’s easy to fall off the wagon. Even the best plans can go unimplemented.  

Stay on track by using a couple techniques: 

  • Every goal and task has an owner. If no one owns a task, you risk the “bystander effect.” This is a psychological effect where no one in a group does anything, as everyone assumes someone else will do it. Give someone responsibility and there’s a higher likelihood it’ll get done.
  • Calendar out your goals. What gets calendared, gets done. Set firm dates on tactical steps and stick to them if you want to reach your goals.
  • Bring in an outsider. Sometimes you’re too close to see what’s going on. An outside party can hold you accountable to accomplishing your plan when you can’t hold yourself accountable. Our 90-day strategic sprints perform exactly this function, and your team works harder to finish tasks when they know a check-in is coming.


The Long Haul


Since community bank and credit union strategic planning is a process, you’re in it for the long haul. Initiatives can’t be passing fancies. You can’t abandon them for any squirrels or shiny objects that come along.

Stick to the plan. Have perseverance and determination. You didn’t come to your strategic goals thoughtlessly; each one was chosen for the benefit of the institution.

Don’t treat your plan like a bunch of empty words. Trust the process. 

Turn your community bank or credit union strategic planning session into more than a “splurge day.” Make it more than a day on the calendar…even though dates are important.

Book a free consultation with On The Mark Strategies today and schedule your session before the date you want becomes unavailable.

Mark Arnold
Founder and CEO