You have no doubt heard the saying that doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. Why is it, then, that so many financial institutions fall into this trap? To be fair, it isn’t just banks or credit unions. Many businesses fall into this trap. The longer you do that, the harder it is to dig yourself out.

The same can be said of strategic planning. How many times do you review the same data, come to the same conclusions and make the same goals that don’t get met? That’s insanity. It’s insane to spend all that time and effort to accomplish so little or even worse, move backward.

Strategic planning is meant to stretch your thinking. If done correctly, it is designed to make your leadership team think outside the box, dream big and push your financial institution to step outside its comfort zone. That doesn’t mean making decisions on a whim. You still have to be responsible stewards of your customers’ or members’ money. It means doing some things differently.

Stop doing what doesn’t’ work

You definitely have to review your financial institution’s performance from the previous year. What are you doing with that information once it is reviewed? You should be using that information to decide not only what you should continue doing but also what you should stop doing. If performance was poor, go back several years to see if that is a trend. If it’s costing your financial institution money and producing negative results, you either need to stop doing it or figure out how to do it better. Don’t keep doing it the same way. Remember, that’s insanity.

Use new research and/or tools

When we conduct planning sessions for clients, we incorporate research and tools not just from the financial institution we’re working with but outside sources, as well. Some of those tools include environmental scans, our own industry scan, SWOT and Five Star Credit Unions, among others. Research you might consider includes Net Promoter Score, member surveys, focus groups and any business data that can help you make responsible decisions on where to build branches, how to expand your field of membership or customer base and the like.

Dream big

This is an element missing from so many strategic planning sessions. If you never dream big…if you never envision the seemingly impossible, you may never get there. Earmark a small amount of time on your agenda and give everyone in the planning session an opportunity to answer the question, “If we could do anything we wanted to do as a financial institution, what would it be?” Sometimes a dream isn’t as far from reality as it appears once you start examining what needs to be done to get there.

Doing what you’ve always done is sure to get you the result you’ve always gotten. Do something different during your next strategic planning session. Use new tools. Look at research in new ways. Dream big. You might be surprised at how far that gets you.

 

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