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Strategic Challenge 2015: What Will You Stop Doing?

Think back to the last adult conversation you had. I’m guessing it went something like this:

“Hi there. How are you?”

“I’m well. You?”

“I’m doing well. But so busy. I had three meetings today. The examiners were in last month and I’m working on responses to two findings. We are considering a core conversion and I’ve been working on committees to move that project forward. I forgot my son had a science project due, so I was up until 2 AM working on his project last night and my father is coming into town this weekend, so as soon as we are done with this meeting, I have to rush home to make sure the house is in order. Hang on, I’m getting a text from my husband.”

Human beings are busier than ever. Here are eight things you might not know about busyness in America.

Considering how busy we are, as we head into the credit union industry’s peak “strategic planning” season, credit unions across North America might be overwhelmed with the many important strategic questions that are under consideration:

  • What is our “why?”
  • Is our vision aggressive enough for the next 3 years?
  • What do our members and potential members need and want?
  • How will we attract the next generation of members?
  • How will we make using the credit union easier than ever?
  • What will the branch of the future look like and what purpose will it serve?
  • What will our digital strategy be in this omni-channel world and how will we meet our members where they are?
  • What will our payment strategy be?
  • How will we retain and attract top talent and what is our succession plan?
  • How will we integrate innovation into our daily lives?

Whew. Those are just some of the many questions credit union executives and boards are considering. This business of strategizing to create the best credit union to serve our members into the future is both exciting and challenging. It sure keeps us busy! Of course, asking the right questions is only the start. Developing the answers to those questions, prioritizing strategies and ultimately implementing new ideas all while continuing to improve the financial situation of our members takes determination, grit and the balance between pausing to strategize and relentlessly executing.

As we balance these strategic questions and the busyness we all feel, one question I’d invite credit union executives and boards to consider during the strategy sessions this fall is this: what will we stop doing? It might be the hardest question of all. We want so much to be all things to all members and potential members. We want to take on more so that we can differentiate ourselves in the marketplace and dominate the competition. However, there is only so much time in everyday. Having spent 14 years in three different credit unions, I know how many hats the average credit union team member is wearing. If you’ve come up with an exceptional strategic plan with great new ideas this year, challenge your team to come up at least three things that you’ll stop doing.

Here are a few suggestions to consider*:

  • Offering paper statements for free
  • Offering paper brochures
  • Mailing receipts
  • Requiring duplicate entry of information on membership applications and loan applications
  • Requiring members to repeat information when they are transferred
  • Running any report that hasn’t been read in the last six months
  • Kicking off new projects that don’t have a direct link to your strategy
  • Mailing newsletters
  • Blocking social media access
  • Holding meetings on Fridays

This is a challenge that I’ll take with you. I’m very bad at saying no and it’s unusual for me to stop doing things. I just keep adding on and wishing that someone would add an eighth day to our week. So, I’ll join you. Let’s touch base in six months and see how we’ve done.

What could your credit union stop doing? I’d love to hear your ideas.

*Disclaimer: These are only ideas and every credit union should investigate all new endeavors including the regulatory and compliance considerations before making changes to current practices.

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