Three Frequently Asked Strategic Planning Questions

Mark Arnold
Three Frequently Asked Strategic Planning Questions

In my many years hopping on calls with community banks and credit unions about their strategic planning sessions, I found there are some questions leaders always ask.

To help you better plan your own session, here are the top three frequently asked questions (and their answers) about maximizing your community bank or credit union strategic planning session.

1. When is the best time to have the strategic planning session?

Well first of all, don’t do it when you’re “not busy.” The truth is: you’re always busy. Putting off your planning session until you have some free time means the planning session will never happen.

Bite the bullet, make time to think strategically and ensure you’re busy with the right things.

Second, your planning session shouldn’t start late in the day or go into the evening. Both of those agendas are recipes for an unproductive session with disengaged people. Instead, start at 8:30am or 9:00am and go until around 2:30pm or 3:00pm.

Take advantage of peak energy times and close the session when participants get tired.

Lastly, your community bank or credit union strategic planning session doesn’t have to happen during Q4. Don’t get me wrong…there’s nothing wrong with Q4 sessions. But there’s also nothing wrong with a Q2 or Q3 session.

In fact, Q2 or Q3 may provide a more stress-free time to think about strategy. Q4 usually includes budgeting and preparing for the holidays – a bad combo when it comes to strategic planning for some folks.

2. Is it better to have the strategic planning session off site?

In short, yes. Thinking strategically means stepping away from the tactical. And it’s often hard to avoid the tactical while still in your branch or office. Emails, operations problems and more cause your mind to easily wander away from the future and back into the present.

Holding your community bank or credit union strategic planning session at an off-site location removes participants from tactical distractions. Also, it doesn’t have to be a pricey resort. Find an affordable room to rent and cater a fun lunch.

Go off site in a way that fosters a strategic focus and works with your budget.

3. How much should the credit union board be involved in strategic planning sessions?

Mileage may vary here depending on who sits on your board. Some boards have a lot of working members who can’t easily make it to a session. Others have members who would much rather the executives handle planning.

In these situations, it may be best for senior leaders to go through the full session and present the initiatives to the board later.

But in most other circumstances, you want the board present at the main credit union strategic planning session alongside the executives. Having everyone in the same room generates good discussion and builds alignment between the volunteers and the senior leadership team.

Just make sure the board stays out the weeds and in the strategic realm. The board helps craft the far-reaching goals, and the executives figure out how to tactically accomplish them.

Now, let’s put what you’ve learned into action. Book a free consultation to put a community bank or credit union strategic planning session with On The Mark Strategies on your calendar today.

Mark Arnold
Founder and CEO