We are now in the dog days of summer, which means many banks and credit unions are thinking ahead about their strategic planning sessions in the fall. As you begin to put together your thoughts and expectations for these critically important days of planning, consider the following questions that may not have come to mind before.

These are questions you should ask of yourself and your strategic planning team before the meeting, so everyone has plenty of time to contribute thoughtful replies. Come to your strategic planning’s table session with the answers to help kick-start a dynamic meeting.

  • What is the “elephant in the room” issue no one wants to talk about? Every bank or credit union has at least one, if not more. What is that one issue/challenge of which everyone is aware but about which no one wants to talk? Successful strategic planning sessions require honesty – honest talk and honest answers. For your strategic planning session to be successful, your group must honestly tackle this question (or questions).
  • What is the one thing only our financial institution can do for its consumers? In other words, spend some time thinking about that one special thing that only your bank or credit union can do for consumers. And if there isn’t one special thing that only your financial institution can do, that should spur some serious strategic planning discussion.
  • What are our consumers’ pain points? This is another tricky question to answer (especially if you’re doing it honestly). Here you are considering every point of consumer interaction with your financial institution (in the lobby, on the phone, via email, during the loan application process, etc.). Chances are, you already have a good idea where the hiccups are in the system from personal experience, listening to your staff or from consumer feedback. Identify these pain points during your strategic planning session and create initiatives to tackle them.

Your strategic planning session must feature an open dialogue in which every participant feels free to air his or her honest answers to questions. Hopefully the three questions discussed here have given you new lines along which to think when it comes to conversations at your next strategic planning session.