How Bad Bank or Credit Union Strategic Planning is Killing You

Mark Arnold
How Bad Bank or Credit Union Strategic Planning is Killing You

Strategic planning isn’t just a day on the calendar. It’s not something to take lightly or something to do halfheartedly, either. Why? 

Because good bank or credit union strategic planning is like a shot of adrenaline to the heart. And bad planning…well…that’s like dripping poison into your veins. You may not notice the immediate effects, but it’ll kill your institution over time. 

Let’s go over the three main ways bad planning is killing your credit union or community bank and what you need to do about it.


#1: Death by a Thousand To-Dos


A major element missing from many strategic plans is focus. Some bank or credit union strategic planning sessions turn into glorified to-do list exercises. Rather than leaving with focused goals, you create 10 things a few people are passionate about.

You might feel productive after making such a large list, but that feeling is fleeting. It’s unlikely you’ll accomplish so many tasks – a reality ultimately leading to frustration and guilt at next year’s session.

Solution: Ideally, your institution’s plan should contain three to five realistic, measurable initiatives. These goals must still challenge you, but there’s a difference between a challenge and an impossibility.

You also want to make sure your plan remains strategic. There may be so many goals at the end because you excessively delved into the tactical realm.


#2: Death by Discussion


Discussion is wonderful…for a little bit. But at a certain point, it actually starts to hurt your bank or credit union strategic planning. You might go down discussion rabbit holes forever and wind up without a clear direction. 

As Gino Wickman says, “Most leadership teams spend their time discussing the heck out of everything but rarely solving anything.”

Solution: The whole point of your planning session is to solve long-term problems. Know when to cut off discussion and agree on a strategic initiative. Make it clear (as in, no room for interpretation).


#3: Death by Poor Facilitation


Poor facilitation plays into the point above (and a couple other issues too). An inexperienced facilitator may feel shy or nervous about ending a discussion, grabbing a point and forging ahead.

Bad facilitation also:

  • Fails to educate you on necessary background information
  • Lacks the necessary structure to guide you to the best conclusions
  • Leaves you feeling unsure about your plan

Solution: Enlist the best possible facilitator for your bank or credit union strategic planning session. This person might very well be your CEO. It might also be an outsider.

For example, On The Mark Strategies facilitators avoid the pitfalls of poor facilitation by reviewing industry trends with attendees, structuring the session like a funnel (highest strategic level down to your specific goals) and helping you reach initiatives you trust.


Bonus: Death by Boredom


Strategy should be exciting! But far too often…it’s a snooze fest. You may notice the tell-tale signs in your bank or credit union strategic planning session: eyes glazed over, an eerily quiet room and absent-minded nods.

Solution: Make planning fun! Cater lunch. Do team-building exercises. Allow some jokes. You’ll have a more engaging session, which means you’ll have more engaged attendees and a better plan.

It’s time to give your bank or credit union strategic planning session a shot of adrenaline. Book a free consultation to discuss strategic planning with On The Mark Strategies today.

Mark Arnold
Founder and CEO