Strategic Questions to Ask at This Year's Planning Session

Mark Arnold
Strategic Questions to Ask at This Year's Planning Session

Questions and answers. They are a key part to developing any strategy. Ask the wrong strategic questions and it doesn’t matter what your answer is. Answer the right questions the wrong way and it doesn’t matter what the question is.

With On the Mark Strategies’ planning process, we conduct a pre-session survey of attendees. This gets everyone thinking and saves time during the meeting. This year more than ever, the questions you ask are critical.

Asking the same “canned” questions year after year is also not a wise idea. As you prepare your Post Pandemic Plan you must look beyond the current crisis.

So what are the best strategic questions to ask this year? Here are a few ideas along with why they are critical:

Strategic Question #1: What strategic lessons have we learned through the pandemic?

While the majority of your planning process needs to look forward it doesn’t hurt to spend a little time reflecting on the past. COVID-19 has caused unbelievable harm and yet it is also a learning opportunity. Analyzing the past will better prepare your credit union or bank for the future.

Strategic Question #2: How do we need to change our business model?

The entire world is changing because of the pandemic. How your financial institution does business is no exception. Whether it is investing in a Credit Union Service Organization (CUSO), moving forward or getting out of indirect lending or using the PPP loans to do more with serving businesses, the way you do business is going to need to change.

Strategic Question #3: What opportunities does the economic downturn present us?

While there is certainly tons of negativity associated with the pandemic there are also plenty of potential positives. These include consumers transitioning to more digital, lowering your operating expenses with less office space and investing more in marketing to increase your market share.

Strategic Question #4: What is the biggest thing that scares you about the future of our financial institution?

The fear is real. And you must address it. Spending time examining the concerns helps your credit union or community bank better prepare for the future.

Strategic Question #5: What current strategic initiatives should we stop, speed up, slow down our stay the course?

We dived into this question in a previous post, but it bears mentioning again. Now is the perfect time to examine all your current strategies and ways you need to modify them.

Strategic Question #6: How are we going to make money in 2021?

Income is down in every area (loan income, fee income, investment income, etc.). Since all arrows are pointing in the wrong direction you must determine strategic solutions for changing that arrow. Recessions are an exercise in change management. What are you going to do to change your credit union or community bank because former traditional money-making options are no longer there?

Just because we are in the middle of a pandemic does not mean your strategic planning process should pause or stop. But it does mean that you should stop asking the same questions from previous sessions. Asking (and answering) the questions above will accelerate your credit union or community bank’s growth.

Mark Arnold
Founder and CEO