As you work towards the bottom of the funnel in your strategic planning process, you come to establishing goals. Since there are probably plenty of voices represented at your strategic planning table, it makes sense that your efforts will generate a number of goals.

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This is a point at which some strategic planning processes break-down. The goal of your plan is not to develop a laundry list of pet projects from every department. Rather, it is to identify goals and initiatives that can best position your credit union for success in the coming years.

Prioritizing these goals is critical. And, yes, there are some goals that, for a number of reasons, you may have to scrap altogether. Once you have paired your overall goal list down to a manageable number (while it varies from credit union to credit union, a good rule of thumb is no more than five), your team must now turn its attention towards ranking these goals in order of importance.

Toes will be stepped on. Egos will be bruised. This is to be expected. Some people will see their cherished initiative tabled for a year while others receive priority status. The participants in your strategic planning process must have thick skin and realize that for the greater good of the credit union, this necessary prioritization of goals is a good thing (and not a personal affront).

In order to work, your strategic plan must be easily reduced to a lowest common denominator of useful initiatives. Too many goals translates to too many cooks in the kitchen and your once valiant strategic plan will quickly devolve into a quagmire of unrealized potential and squandered opportunity.

Let your strategic planning team know ahead of time that goal prioritization is a necessity. This information, shared up-front, can help lessen the sting of seeing a particular goal tabled and will prep your team for the strategic planning challenges ahead.