Over the next three years, our strategy is to increase Member engagement while generating deeper relationships with our Membership. Engagement can be viewed through the usage of our services, the frequency of interactions, and the feedback we receive. The depth of our Members’ relationships can be viewed by the total number of products our Members hold as well as the deposit and loan balances our Members entrust to the Credit Union.
Keeping an Eye on the Future
We operate in an ever-accelerating business environment. Many organizations struggle to set strategy even one year in advance, yet many strategic initiatives are multi-year journeys. Staying in the present moment while thinking about the future requires focus and structure. To do this well, the Credit Union integrates several disciplines, including environmental scans, strategic planning, and managing a portfolio of potential disruptors and opportunities. We call this integrated approach “Always On.”
The leadership team tracks multiple issues over various time horizons to assess disruptors, opportunities or threats, and tipping points of convergence. Each of these issues could be a major disruptor for our business on its own, but when two or more issues converge, the potential impact is significantly greater.
Strategic Planning as a Continuous Exercise
Partners uses a continuous strategic planning approach to its business. This means the leadership team, including the Board of Directors, always dedicates conversation and resources to what is next. We like to call it keeping one foot in today, and one foot in tomorrow. In fact, the required amount of focus on the future relates directly to one’s role in the Credit Union. Where a Director should spend 75% of her time focusing on tomorrow and 25% on today, the CEO may be more 50% and 50%. You can follow this all the way to tellers, who are more like 10% on the future and 90% on today. The point is, every cast member, regardless of position, must have a portion of their focus on tomorrow.
Four Lenses for Viewing Future Opportunities
There are four lenses through which we view strategic opportunities:
Clayton Christiansen famously observed in his book The Innovator’s Dilemma that history is littered with companies who failed to secure their future because they focused only on what their customers wanted. Consumers don’t always know what is possible, or what is coming next. To effectively view opportunities from the Member Expectation perspective, we must be able to anticipate their needs before they know they have them.
It’s nearly impossible to keep up with the rate of technological advancement, particularly in financial services. We must use this perspective to not only recognize what is possible, but what will be possible. We must understand what we will need and with whom to partner, in order to remain relevant.
We must review each opportunity through the lens of human resources. Do we have the talent to pursue this opportunity? Can we “train up” to the talent level required? Is the talent available for hire? Is there talent we can rent? An anticipatory approach to capability development … what do I need to learn? Who do I need to become?
Safety and Soundness
How does each opportunity affect our ability to ensure safety and soundness in operations? Are there legal or ethical implications? Are there greater societal implications we must be aware of before we proceed?