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The Strategic Plan is Just the Beginning
Thursday, April 18, 2013 7:05 AM

By definition, a plan is a diagram or list of steps, with timing and resources, used to achieve an objective.  But, in most cases, the outcome from the strategic planning workshop is a set of high-level, sometimes loosely-defined objectives intended to move the credit union forward, not a detailed plan of individual responsibilities and tactical milestones for plan deployment. 

“Strategies and tactics define what will be done across the organization, top to bottom, to achieve plan objectives,” says Dean Borland, vice president of Credit Union Resources. “The most common tool used to manage strategies and tactics is a milestone chart, a diagram or outline that defines what is supposed to be done, when each step is supposed to be completed, and who is responsible for making it happen.”

Unless the plan is to continue doing exactly what has been done before, Borland says strategies and tactics developed to achieve organizational objectives will require that some things will have to change – things like policies, procedures, work processes, behaviors, and perhaps even organizational values.

“Plans are deployed by people and, to one degree or another; people are often resistant to change,” notes Borland. “As a result, change management is an often-overlooked component of plan deployment.”

Borland believes that organizational change can be managed more effectively when everyone understands why the change is necessary and what their individual role(s) will be in making the change happen.

“Communicating the plan to everyone, helping everyone understand why the plan objectives are important, and creating organizational focus on achieving the plan is therefore a critical step in plan deployment,” adds Borland.

According to Borland, the organizational focus created by everyone understanding their personal role is important. All credit unions, large and small, have limited capacity, both human and financial. Capacity limitations often dictate that activities supporting new plans have to be achieved without a significant increase in resources.

“Elimination of some activities that do not contribute to achieving strategic objectives may be necessary to allocate capacity to those that do,” says Borland. “As a result, elimination of antiquated non-core practices, policies, processes, or even services can have a significant impact on future success.”

What gets watched gets done. Each plan objective, Borland says, needs a champion; someone who is personally responsible for making sure that strategies and tactics formulated to achieve plan objectives successfully happen on time and within budget.  If responsibility is not defined (and rewards/recognition/compensation aligned with success), Borland says the plan simply will not happen.

Could you or someone at your credit union benefit from better understanding the importance of the planning process? If so, learn more during Credit Union Resources’ Strategic Planning webinar, which will take place April 24. To sign up, visit www.curesources.coop/webinars.html or email Bonnie Cox, at bcox@curesources.coop.