Mind the Gap: Communicating the Strategic Plan

We’re headlong into planning and budgeting season, and after reviewing a few plans, a couple of things have occurred to me about communicating the strategic plan.

mindthegap

Communicating the Strategic Plan

Have you ever noticed that no one ever has a new strategic planning document that simply says, “Just keep doing what we’re doing. Things are going great”? And rightly so, I guess. I mean, you don’t hold planning sessions to envision what you’re already doing. But too often credit unions get caught up in the concept of the planning session and the idea that this is the one place where we come up with new, different, and forward thinking. We all want to be innovative and feel like visionaries. And no doubt our industry is dealing with dramatic change and an environment that often feels like quicksand shifting beneath our feet.

My point is that there are often a couple of large gaps between the plan and the people that derail the process. Read more

Board Leadership: Preparing the Chair

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In a recent survey of nonprofits, 51% of board chairs said they “did nothing specific to prepare” for the role of chair. That’s a pretty staggering number. The survey “Voices of Board Chairs” from the Alliance for Nonprofit Management reported on the experience of 635 nonprofit board chairs from across the United States. throneOf course, this survey isn’t specific to credit union boards and chairs, but we fit in the nonprofit area. And the results of this report align with what I see anecdotally across the credit union industry.

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Governance & Mergers … or Mergers & Governance

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Shhh

D’oh! I just said the “M” word. Shhhhhh! We don’t want to talk about that. The leadership in the credit union movement treats merger talk as verboten. You don’t see much on conference agendas, or on webinars. And I get it – talking about it might come across as endorsing it, and there’s a school of thought that says that more credit unions are better for the industry.

Well…it’s no secret that there are a LOT of credit union mergers. According to the NCUA, there were 234 mergers in 2015, which actually represents a slow down of late. Read more

The Role of the Board Chair

The Role of the Board Chair

Recently I had the chance to spend some time with a great group of board members at that National Association of Credit Union Chairmen (NACUC) – Leadership Development Seminar. One of the things we talked about was the role of the board chair. I thought this well worth putting down on *paper* as it were.

The role of the chairperson is multi-faceted, complex, and often changing within the context of the organization’s dynamic. Unfortunately, there’s no perfect set of “rules.” But there are some guidelines. Here are our “tips” on navigating the position successfully:

Board Chair

Board Chair

Roles:

Facilitator – The board chair must draw together the individual directors into a team, working together on behalf of the membership and the credit union. To do that, s/he must wrangle individual personalities, draw out conversation from some, and rein it in from others. Having a solid understanding of the personalities of each director … and the CEO helps the chair keep things on track, moving forward, and civil.

Leader – Wait! Isn’t being a leader at odds with being a facilitator? Isn’t this a contradiction? No. There are times when the job is pure facilitation and times when it is leadership and setting direction. A skilled leader will know which is which and be able to handle both without perceptions of contradiction.

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Assessing Toward a Better Board (or What’s Behind That Word?)

By Kevin Smith, Publisher, TEAM Resources

Let’s face it – when I hear the word “assessment” it takes me back to middle school standardized tests, some of which took days, and all of which raised anxiety for everyone in the building, students and teachers alike. No, “assessment” is not my favorite word. Flash forward to a graduate-level education course in assessments. There I learned why they’re so anxiety inducing. (I’ll skip that 16-week tangent for now. You’re welcome.)

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Building Your Business Model to Create a Market Advantage

Can you strictly define your business model? Your competitive advantage? If you say, “We are a full service credit union, and our competitive advantage is our great prices and our member service,” then you are missing the boat.

Being a credit union is not a business model; it is a charter type. Being “full service” doesn’t really answer anything. Sears is full service, yet they struggle to compete in the new, complex marketplace. While offering great member service with the best price is sound wisdom, it is seen by many experts and almost mutually exclusive.

Let’s breakout out business models and competitive advantages in five delineated areas: Read more

Effective Leadership by Your Board

How well does your board “lead” your credit union? Leadership by the board is very different from leadership by management. As a matter of fact, leadership by the board requires a different skill set than leadership by management.

Boards govern. What does that mean? It means they don’t “operate.” I know that doesn’t answer the question, but it is an important point. The area of Operations, led by the CEO, is day-to-day activities requiring active and present oversight. Read more

Becoming a Strategic Board

Generally, boards do two things that have a positive impact on their organizations:

  1. Plan strategically; and
  2. Hire a competent CEO who is accountable to the strategic plan.

Nearly any other things the board involves itself with will have either a neutral impact or a negative impact. Unfortunately, the neutral impact list is rather short. Read more

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