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Get Started On Your Strategic Planning

July 27, 2018

Strategic planning season
By Guest Writer Kathy Darwin, Credit Union Strategic Planner

The outside temperature reminds us it is still summer; however, it is time to plan your 2018-19 Strategic Planning Workshop.  No, you cannot skip it this year or wait until September to get started.  Here are a few reminders and tips to help you get started:

  • Hire a Facilitator –Regardless of your facilitation skills or how much you love leading your team, this is not the time.  You need a professional, someone knowledgeable in the industry and focused on challenging the strategic thinking of your managers and volunteers.  You owe it to your organization to hire someone to create fun, excitement and the desired outcomes.
  • Set a Date – Identify who will attend, when you will meet, and where you will meet.  Strategic Planning Workshops DO NOT need to be held for 3 days or at a fancy resort.  You are thinking strategically year around so a 5-7 hour workshop works very well.  And skip the fancy resort, use your building or another facility in your community as the meeting location.
  • Reflect on Your Goals – Make an appointment with yourself to reflect on your vision for the credit union, community, and industry.  Take notes and schedule time to share your thoughts with your senior management team.  Ask your team to go through the same exercise then spend time listening and learning from their ideas.
  • Know What’s Ahead – Spend time looking at current trends inside and outside your industry.  Think about:
    • FinTechs – Can you use them versus compete with them?
    • Cyber Security – Do we accept it is the new norm and build a strong defense?  
    • Branch Strategies – Robots, humans, monitor screens…what does the consumer want?
    • Local Economy – What are the new factors impacting your local economy?
    • What Your Member’s Value  – What is it your members value most; service, pricing, technology, location, products, people?  Will you be meeting their expectations in 5 years?
    • Innovation – Who are the right people and what is the right mind-set to drive your credit union in the next 5 – 10 years.  What does your 5 and 10-year vision look like?

Strategic planning and strategic thinking is energizing and a resource and accountability tool for  leadership.  If you think planning workshops are not fun, informative, value-added and productive…don’t stop planning, find a new facilitator.  You deserve to have a partner who will support you and guide your organization in meeting the demands of your growing membership.


Kathy Darwin is the nation's only credit union-centric strategic planner. She offers strategic planning and development services, helping you strengthen your credit union, develop its growth strategies, and create actionable plans for your products and services.  Learn more at




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