Rethinking Strategic Planning Sessions

Let's face facts: most credit union strategic planning sessions are exhausting, unproductive, and expensive. Even though this declaration stings, you know it's true. And, largely, it's not your fault.
If planning, as Alan Lakein once said, is "bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now," there are many things that need to be present to create a useful plan. Boards and senior management must have:

  1. Some vision of the future, rooted in the facts as we know them today and the intuition necessary to spot trends and patterns going forward.
  2. A great facilitator who drives the group towards decision-making by remaining independent, asking the right questions, and making sure everyone's voice is heard.
  3. Enough faith in the process and resulting plan to actually execute it. 

The first two must-haves are expensive. It can cost a fortune to bring in outside experts to help evaluate past performance, identify industry trends, discover opportunities for improvement, and connect seemingly unrelated data points that can yield innovation. Similarly, bringing in an expert facilitator that can optimize your chances for planning success can cost tens of thousands of dollars. For most credit unions this is simply unaffordable. Consequently, all three must-haves are sacrificed.
It doesn't have to be this way. The sixth cooperative principle shows us a different path. You see, until now credit union planning sessions have all been done independently. Individual credit unions either individually pay high prices for facilities, guest speakers, and facilitators, or save money and simply do without. No consideration has been given to the idea that these costs could be shared. Imagine a scenario in which the best speakers, facilitators, and facilities were actually affordable. Cooperation among cooperatives can make that happen -- and yield much better results than going it alone. Settling for less than the best in the planning process and not considering an opportunity to save money in doing so is contrary to a cooperative's goal of maximizing value returned to members.
6th Story wants to help fix this. And to paint a picture of what this could look like going forward for credit unions, we have booked space in Austin, Texas, this fall to launch an open invitation joint credit union planning session. We'll have top speakers, facilitators, and facilities. Just as important, credit unions will be able to learn from each other while privately planning as individual credit unions.
To learn more, please register for a 15-20 minute informational webinar at the following link:
- Matt