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« ‘Directors-in-Training’ Help Build Board | Main | 'Ambition' and 'Intention' are the New 'Mission' and 'Vision' »

Be Five-Star Planners

By Mark Arnold

Want to stay at the best? Pick a five-star hotel. Want to eat at the best? Pick a five-star restaurant. Want to make your credit union the best? Pick a five-star strategy.

Planning five-star style means shedding tradition and adding a little zing to your board’s strategic planning process. For example, try forgoing the time you usually spend developing the SWOT analysis that looks at the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats that you probably know before you even begin your retreat. Instead, spend your valuable strategic planning time analyzing which of the five-points can make your credit union the star in the marketplace. For example, analyze:

  1. Member service
  2. Staff
  3. Branding and marketing
  4. Operations
  5. Finances

Then, determine which of these points—recognizing it won’t be all of them—that you’re great at and which you are good at and which you might need to improve. Most importantly, determine which of the five points contains your greatest differentiators in the marketplace and understand that while you need to be good in the other three or four, to be a five-star champion, you need to be excellent in one or two points. Consider Walmart. They are excellent on price and product but not so great on service. They don’t try to be great on service; their differentiators are price and product variety.

Take the analysis a creative step further by listing differentiators for each point without using the words credit union people always use: “member,” “service,” “credit union” or “community.” Dive deep without these fallbacks to see what parts of the five points—big or small—really make, or could make, your three- or four-star credit union into a five-star powerhouse. Determine what one or two points you are or can be best at in your market and focus the majority of your strategic planning time around them.

Mark Arnold, CCUE, is the president of On the Mark Strategies, Carrollton, Texas.

Learn more about Arnold’s blueprint for adding zing to your strategic planning process and strengthening the points of your credit union’s star by attending CUES’ Directors Conference, December 9-12, in Palm Desert, Calif.

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