An often overlooked, but critically important, step in strategic planning is taking time to assess your strategic planning process. I’m not talking about the logistics or timing of the planning session, or the quality of the plan that was developed, but the overall process before, during, and after the planning session.

Think about it for a minute–how would you assess your strategic planning process?

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Here’s a simple quiz you can use to create a baseline assessment of your strategic planning process in five key areas that will directly impact the success of your efforts…

FREQUENCY: How frequently does your credit union hold strategic planning sessions?
a. Annually
b. Every 2 years
c. Every 3 years
d. Never

PLANNING HORIZON: How far into the future do you plan during your planning process?
a. Next 5 years
b. Next 3 years
c. Next 2 years
d. Next year

LOCATION: Where do you hold your planning sessions?
a. Out of county
b. Out of town
c. Off-site in town
d. In your board (or training) room

FACILITATION: Who facilitates your planning sessions?
a. Industry strategic planning facilitator
b. Professional strategic planning facilitator
c. Local planning facilitator
d. In-house leader

DURATION: How long does your planning process last?
a. All year
b. 6 months
c. 3 months
d. 1 to 2 days

If you answered A to most of these questions, then your planning process is well defined and should support sound decision making about the future of your credit union.

But if you answered D to most of these questions, then it’s time to re-think your approach and realign your efforts to focus more on the long-term future you are seeking to create for your credit union.

If you answered B or C to any of these questions then your process has room for improvement and the recommendation is to re-evaluate your process with respect to those areas and make appropriate adjustments.

The takeaway from this simple way of assessing your strategic planning process is to recognize the importance of making strategic planning about the process, not the event (aka the annual planning session).

Action Advice: Have everyone on your planning team complete this brief assessment individually and then discuss the combined results. Map your planning process for the future based on the insights that surface in that discussion–recognize the areas where the process is on track, identify areas for improvement, and commit to continuous improvement of the process (and by association the strategic plan) to guide your credit union to long-term success.