Many years ago Nike famously attempted to launch a new product line: Nike jeans. Their company is all about shoes, athletic apparel and sports. A far cry from jeans. Nike spent millions and millions of dollars trying to promote their denim wear. The product bomb miserably. Why? Because Nike is not about jeans.

Could Nike offer jeans? Of course. Should Nike offer jeans? Of course not.

As your credit union or bank heads into its strategic planning session, there are many questions you can ask. There are many directions and strategic initiatives you can take. But the most important thought you need to consider is:

What strategic initiatives should we undertake?

It all comes down to focus. The more you focus, the more you will succeed. As a subset of the above question, consider asking, “What are the top three things we can do in the next six to twelve months that will help us reach our goals?” Begin with the end in mind and work your way backwards.

In many planning sessions we want to accomplish it all. However, the most successful executives are masters of exclusion. Rather than saying “yes” to everything say “no” to most things.

As an example, your financial institution can do a lot things: market to Hispanics, increase your youth efforts, grow community involvement, promote loans, reduce operating expenses, update your brand, change your name, hire more employees, launch a sales and service culture, open more branches, increase your digital prescence, offer innovative products, and on and on and on. Those are all great strategic initiatives. But are they right strategic initiatives?

It depends on how you answer that key question: what should we do?

When answering that important question, consider your vision (why you exist), your values (what is important to you) and your goals (what you want to accomplish). When you are planning, never move away from those core elements.

There are many cases when we want to be like Nike. However, when it comes to Nike jeans you might not want to try on that pair.

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