Seven Components That Are Key To Effective Strategic Planning

Often, strategic planning activity falls short because leaders fail to critically assess the external environment by focusing too much on internal processes, systems and historical data and procedures.

Taking an outside-in approach would serve leadership well. A focus on more Innova-shun and less Tradi-shun would help move the credit union forward.

There must also be more emphasis placed on taking a member-centric approach. To make your planning more effective, consider these components:

* Conduct a Thorough Environmental Scan to understand your current and future financial marketplace environment. This will involve some market research regarding national/local financial services and CU industry economic and consumer market trends.

* Perform a SCOT Analysis for Strengths, Challenges, Opportunities and Threats. This should include member surveys, focus groups product/service usage patterns and member feedback.

* Reaffirm Your Mission/Vision/Core Values. Understanding the difference between your mission (who you are) and vision (where you want to go or become) is crucial. The CU's core values and philosophy need to be aligned with the strategy for growth.

* Identify and Priortize Key Strategic Initiatives/Advantages/and Strategic Directions. Knowing who your competition is and what your advantages are will help you properly develop product and service strategies to position you to prosper.

* Develop A Tactical Action Step Plan that includes budget/key result areas/ business plan/timelines/completion dates/outcome measurements/accountabilities and impact on resources.

* Create an Evaluation Process to ensure you are meeting the criteria. This should be monitored on a regular basis.

* Communicate the Progress to the key stakeholders for direction, motivation and performance assessment.

Progress should be reviewed monthly and the plan should be annually updated. It should also be flexible with an "elastic component" to respond to sudden changes in the environment. It's the guide that keeps the CU on course.

John A. Vardallas is CEO of The AmericanBoomeR Group, Madison, Wis. For info: jvardallas@aol.com/www.theamericanboomer.com/ or (608) 577-8707.