Is Your Strategic Plan "Snackable?"

Mark Arnold
Is Your Strategic Plan "Snackable?"

Do you like M&Ms? They’re definitely a favorite snack of mine - small, easy to swallow and you’re able to finish a bag without getting sick. In other words, they’re perfectly snackable.

But strategic plans usually aren’t as snackable as a bag of M&Ms.

Credit unions and community banks tend to stuff them with everything plus the kitchen sink, which makes executing the whole plan impossible. It’s like buying a sheet cake, trying to swallow it in one bite and winding up on the floor, groaning and clutching your stomach.

Your strategic plan shouldn’t make you ill. So, how do you make a snackable strategic plan?

Keep It Small, But Challenging

Your strategic planning session shouldn’t produce 15 or 20 different goals. These are far too many goals for your team to focus on doing any one of them well. Shoot for three to five goals instead. A smaller strategic plan increases the likelihood you’ll actually achieve all your goals.

And just because your plan is small doesn’t mean it isn’t challenging. Continue to challenge yourself. You need ambitious goals if you want incredible growth to follow.

One of our clients, SAFE FCU, uses their strategic planning sessions to develop their “Big Three” goals. This is a hyper-focused list of challenging goals, and it’s a good place to start if your goals list is longer than the Chick-fil-A line at lunch.

Make Sure It’s Digestible

Ok, you now have a small list of challenging goals. But can everyone understand it? The answer should hopefully be “yes.” If it’s not, you’ll have people pulling the plan in several wrong directions.

Everyone must read and understand the credit union or community bank’s direction, whether they’re in the boardroom or not. Both your CEO and your tellers have roles to play when executing the plan, so don’t get too highfalutin.

Keep your goals simple, clear and realistic. Then, you’ll have a plan where the whole organization rows in one direction.

Execute the Plan (Without Making Yourself Sick)

After making manageable and clear goals, put them into action and accomplish them! The best strategic plan is the one that gets implemented, so waste no time on execution.

Identify “mile markers” on the path to the goal’s success, and assign the right people to reach those markers. Keep tabs on progress regularly to quickly address any snags. Regular communication is important. If you unknowingly fall too far off track, it’ll be impossible to get back on track.

Lastly, don’t let executing your strategic plan create staff burnout (especially in this Great Resignation era). Find the balance between ambition and achievability.

Do you still need some help after using these tips? Is your strategic plan still a sheet cake rather than a bag of M&Ms? If so, let our strategic planning experts at On The Mark Strategies help you out when you register for a strategic planning session today.

Mark Arnold
Founder and CEO