In this installment we’ll take a look at five additional tips to help improve your strategic planning process. With strategic planning such a hot-button issue in the credit union world, increasing our knowledge in this area can pay dividends for our credit unions and their members.

This installment’s tips include:

  1. Add muscle and resolve. You’ll always get better or worse and never stay static. Given that, consider the resolve you put into your strategic plan. Synonyms include strength, will, elbow grease and good old-fashioned tenacity. How hard are you going to hit at your strategic plan goals? A strategic plan is great but is worth no more than the paper it’s printed on unless key players add the muscle required to move it forward. Ultimately, strategic resolve leads to better tactics.
  2. Data on-hand is critical. You need the right information to help facilitate the strategic planning process. Key data includes the Environmental Scan, member surveys, member satisfaction feedback, net promoter score and product penetration stats.
  3. Learn to take risks. Improvement and growth do not come without risks. Take risks with unique, targeted groups (like underserved markets, Hispanics, etc.). You can also take risks on employees. Maybe now is the time to give that “up and comer” a key role in the strategic planning process.
  4. Look for a good facilitator. Sometimes the right facilitator can make all the difference in the world in your strategic planning process. Characteristics of a good facilitator include: they will love and challenge you; they will move the meeting along; they will stand up to people when necessary (even the CEO or board chairman); and they will use teamwork to everyones’ advantage.
  5. Look at your credit union’s issues from a 30,000 foot level. The details, challenges and naysayers at ground level can be overwhelming. Keep your head above the clouds for a better view, fresher air and strategic thinking that will move the ball forward.

Next week we’ll offer five more tips to help improve your strategic planning process. In the meantime, we welcome your feedback, questions and ideas…please post a comment to join the conversation.

Mark Arnold, CCUE, is an acclaimed speaker, brand expert and strategic planner. He is also president of On the Mark Strategies, a consulting firm specializing in branding and strategic planning. Some of the services Mark provides include strategic planning, brand planning, leadership/management training, marketing planning and staff training. His web address is and his blog is You can also contact him at 214-538-4147 or