What is the Value of a Strategic Plan?

Jim Blaine, former CEO of State Employees Credit Union North Carolina wrote:

Credit union strategic planning is about as useful as Bermuda’s long rang plan for global domination

Some very successful CEO’s have focused on operational performance as the best road to the future.   And done very well.

The Role of the Plan

Most credit unions will not follow Jim’s observation.   Planning is an annual ritual, often the key part of a board retreat.

These plans are a way of communicating within the organization and when necessary, to external stakeholders.

What matters however, is performance results, not the paper intentions.  Until outcomes are identified and tracked, a plan can be just a political exercise.

The Benefit of  Paper  

Many plans describe strategic priorities, projects and projections.   The test of these goals should be the questions they appear to respond to, if not stated outright.  Questions can be concrete or qualitative.

For example: how do I know if my credit union is becoming more or less relevant in my members’ lives?  What advantages of cooperative design can we use more fully?  How does my team show pride in what they do?   What is the basis for our future confidence?

Leadership is asking the right questions about the short and long term.  In 1983-1984 credit unions began asking NCUA was there a better way to reach the 1% equity goal for the NCUSIF besides double premiums?   That questioning led to a unique cooperative-inspired outcome.

Answers may be uncertain, but the first step in ongoing success is at least looking in the right direction.



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