Michael Hyatt is one of my favorite bloggers. If you are not following him on Twitter and reading the great information he offers on his website, you should.

One of his posts from awhile back still resonates with me: How To Find Time For That Important Project. In it, Hyatt offers seven steps for getting unstuck and finding time for those important projects.

One of his tips rings particularly true when it comes to developing a strategy at your credit union or bank: “Get off your but.” Not your butt. Your but. In other words, stop making excuses. With your strategic planning process a lot of “buts” get in the way (and probably a few “butts” as well!).

Here are a few excuse cards your financial institution sometimes plays with your strategic plan:

“We could offer that technology, BUT we can’t keep up with all the changes.”

Your technology strategy should never be about keeping up with Jones National Bank. Rather you should take a deliberate approach. Determine if you are going to be an early adapter, a fast follower or a laggard. You don’t have to be the first financial institution to offer a program for the Apple Watch. While technology in the banking sector is certainly moving at a fast pace, that speed should never deter your credit union or bank. Stop using changing technology as an excuse.

“We should focus on our brand, BUT we don’t have the resources to invest in it.”

Your brand is the most valuable asset you have. If you don’t spend adequate resources developing a strategic brand plan then you are actually wasting all your other resources. If your brand is not clear, consistent and constant then any other strategic effort you undertake will more than likely fall short. Devoting resources to a wise marketing spend could be the best use of your funds. Stop using a lack of marketing resources as an excuse.

“We could implement that strategic priority, BUT we don’t want to take that kind of risk.”

Strategic planning sessions often involve a great deal of discussion around risks. Your credit union or bank chooses not to undertake a particular initiative because it’s just too risky. Financial institutions are inherently conservative. While that might be appropriate with some projects there are many instances where taking risk is the right thing to do. And keep this in mind: NOT taking a risk is the same as taking a risk. There are times when it’s time to take risks by hiring young, by making targeting a particular niche and by changing your culture. Stop using a lack of risk taking as an excuse.

“We could have a real planning session, BUT no one wants to devote the time and energy to it.”

Planning done the right way takes time, energy and effort. Some boards are bored with planning sessions. Some executive team members spend the entire session reading e-mail on their phone rather than being engaged in the room. When you commit to conducting a strategic planning session then actually commit to spending the time it takes to make it productive. If the first thing everyone is thinking when the session begins is “when is this thing over?” then your session is doomed from the beginning. Stop using a lack of engagement as an excuse.

Those are four “buts” that can expose themselves when crafting your strategic plan. Make sure those buts are covered.

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