Three Must Haves in your Strategic Plan

As you move into our strategic planning and budgeting cycles, there are three must-haves when crafting a prosperous future for your credit union:

A Plan for Transformation: 

Strategic Plans should be designed to transform the organization. If the culture is, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” then don’t waste your time and money doing a strategic plan. If the organization seeks to be better, faster, easier, and cheaper (more efficient), or if your organization is trying to differentiate itself in a crowded marketplace, strategic planning is essential. The only reason to do a strategic plan is the desire to transform and differentiate the organization. However, transformation does not come without having an appetite to do the hard work of implementing change in your culture, business model, product and service offerings, and business processes.

A Digital Strategy:

The digital economy is upon us. Stay current in the digital marketplace or face the “BlockBuster” future. Digital includes the software, tools, functionality, applications, and marketing that allow consumers to conduct business with your organization beyond the branch, when, how, and where they want. The lift in the adoption of new technology is faster than most financial institutions are prepared to implement. Mobile commerce (including mobile banking) quickly moved from an early adopter to a mainstream expectation. Also, most financial institutions are struggling to capture the millennials’ minds and wallets, a significant percentage of whom are digital natives. They expect sophistication and ease of use with these channels when they conduct commerce. A large part of a digital strategy needs to include the alignment of and the elimination of as much friction in all the credit union processes allowable by law. The digital consumer is seeking a low friction experience. The minute unnecessary or extreme friction is present, the consumer quickly navigates away to an easier site to do business. Our digital competitors are Quicken Loans and Simple accounts. They set standards of expectation for frictionless processes.

The digital strategy must also be an “Omni”-organizational initiative and in silos; marketing, lending, IT, compliance, website, and branches. All of the departments must align, and the experience must be similar between channels for the consumer.

A Data Strategy:

We’ve all heard about the importance and impact of Big Data, but financial institutions rarely have a data strategy. They may have software or tools to help them manage, segment, or report on data, but this is not a strategy. Big Data needs to transition from being overwhelmingly big to being smart and actionable. The data strategy includes mining actionable information from the core, aggregating data from the many sources beyond the core, making data understandable and readily available for planning, marketing, learning, and a plan to capture and make actionable the terabits of unstructured data found in social media. A credit union’s ability to capture, understand, and act on data will become the difference between failure and success. Those that don’t develop this core competency risk loss of market share and perceived relevance in the consumer’s eyes.

Today, more than ever, Strategic Planning requires organizations to be bold, visionary, and driven by the execution of those strategies. If your Strategic plan does not include one Big Hairy Audacious Goal – BHAG – (Jim Collins in Good to Great) and an implementation plan with milestones and accountabilities to get you there, then you need to go back to the drawing board.

Strategic Planning is not for wimps.


Rich Jones is the Founder/Principal of Leading2Leadership LLC. Before starting his strategic planning agency, he spent over 20 years in leadership roles in the financial services sector. Before becoming an executive in the financial services sector, Rich was an entrepreneur, building and selling two businesses and working for early-stage start-up companies in executive roles in marketing, business development, and seeking investment partners. With more than three decades of experience, he brings innovative thought to companies and executives. Rich published “Leading2Leadership, a Situational Primer to Leadership Excellence.” The book is available on and was designed to be used as a book study for leadership development programs; it breaks leadership skills into manageable situations for discussion and reflection. Rich works with credit unions, CUSOs, and vendors, designing digital, data, culture, marketing, and branding transformation strategies. In 2014, Chosen as a Credit Union Rock Star by CU Magazine, and in 2018, Rich received the Lifetime Achievement Award from CUNA Marketing and Business Development Council. A Marine and graduate of Colorado State University, Jones shares his expertise at


  1. rich0747 on September 3, 2014 at 10:06 am

    Reblogged this on Leading2Leadership and commented:
    Strategic planning is not for wimps… It takes courage and commitment to a culture of execution…

  2. […] rich0747 on Three Must Haves in your Strat… […]

  3. Ruth Kolb Lawer on February 23, 2015 at 10:31 am

    Wow, that’s what I was searching for, what a material! existing here at this web site, thanks admin of this website.

  4. satellite internet on March 2, 2015 at 9:13 am

    Hello There. I found your blog using msn. This is a very well written article.
    I will be sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful information. Thanks for
    the post. I’ll definitely return.

  5. compare Texas energy rates on March 3, 2015 at 9:01 am

    Great post. I used to be checking constantly this
    blog and I am inspired! Very useful info specially the closing section :
    ) I maintain such information a lot. I used to
    be looking for this particular information for a long time.
    Thanks and best of luck.

Leave a Comment