Credit Union Strategic Planning Process

What is a credit union strategic planning process and why should you use one? If you are a new credit union executive or are thinking of doing your first credit union planning session, this article outlines the process and methodology credit unions use.

Credit Union Strategic Planning Process

The credit union strategic planning process is the steps that you go through as an organization to determine:

  • Vision: the direction of your organization.
  • Mission: what you’re going to do and for whom.
  • Goals: how to measure it and guide your strategy to get to where you want to be.

Before we get into the process, it is important to revisit why we do credit union strategic planning processes. There are 5 main components:Strategic Planning for Credit Unions

  • Get your team on the same page. They should be aligned with the credit union’s vision, mission, and goals.
  • Maximize resources.
  • Understand trends, scenarios, and situations that might impact the credit union in the future.
  • Determine the best ways to accomplish your goals.
  • Develop implementation plans and goals for your team.

A strategic plan is a key tool for your employees, leaders and board members to make sure everyone knows where we are going and why.

The process used to create your credit union’s strategic plan is every bit as important as the plan itself. Then, the method for communicating, updating, and re-evaluating it is essential.

Ultimately, we all have more things we want to do than resources allow. We must therefore prioritize and make tough choices so that we can deliver and get to the next level.

4 Considerations for Credit Union Strategic Planning

  1. How did our credit union get here today?
  2. Where do we want to go, and what are the Champagne moments we will celebrate when we get there?
  3. What might get in our way?
  4. What resources (people, budget, etc.) will we need to get there?

So how do you get there?

Credit Union Strategic Planning Step 1: Gather Inputs

In this first stage we want to gather what has worked from the past. Any credit union performance data, staff surveys, or member surveys are key.

What are the outside factors? Community, political, SEG, economic, social, regulatory or technology that you are concerned about? What keeps you up at night?

SWOT—Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats—make sure you know internal and external factors that impact your credit union.

Credit Union Strategic Planning Step 2: Vision

What will your credit union look like in 5 years?  What is the Champagne moment when you get there? Is it your number of members, your loan portfolio, etc?

Why is this important? What will the impact be if you get there?

Credit Union Strategic Planning Step 3: Mission

Why was your credit union created? What is your mission? Why is that important and who is it for?

Credit Union 2.0 highly recommends creating a painted picture or Vivid Vision to develop these inquiries.

Often as leaders we feel that we have better intuition—in fact, we just know where we are going. The painted picture and Vivid Vision help with that.

Credit Union Strategic Planning Step 4: Values

What are the values that represent the credit union? People helping people? These are about having values that everyone agrees to and are understood.

What are the behaviors that your best employees exhibit? What are the things that won’t be tolerated? What is it like to be an employee at your credit union?

Credit Union Strategic Planning Step 5: Competition and Roadblocks

What could go wrong? What might change in the marketplace? Which competitors should we watch and learn from? Which should we watch and avoid?

Credit Union Strategic Planning Step 6: Priorities, Goals and Tactics

This is where the fun begins. Take the big picture and tie it into your credit union strategic planning process.

Make a list of priorities and action plans that align with your vision.  Prioritize the key items and build a timeline, goals, and measurements.

Credit Union Strategic Planning Step 7: Communication Plan

Who needs to know? What should we communicate? What are the key milestones?

Build a communication plan to board members, employees, and members that will make sure everyone knows what is coming, where you are going, and how you will know when you get there.

Credit Union 2.0 — Credit Union Strategic Planning Facilitators

Kirk Drake and Chris Otey take a unique approach to planning sessions. Their goals are to deal with some of the real issues facing credit unions. These include:

  •                 Who is your ideal member?
  •                 How do we improve board governance?
  •                 How do we get our board to look more like our membership?
  •                 How do we deal with the onslaught of fintechs and technology?
  •                 How do we change our culture to be more like a fintech?

As author of Credit Union 2.0, head of a large technology CUSO, and founder of CU Wallet, Drake has great insights from both his time working at a credit union through his entrepreneurship and board experience.

As board chair of South Bay Credit Union and former CU Wallet and Fiserv executive, Chris has worked with hundreds of credit unions to help them deal with board governance, CUSOs, and other technology challenges.

Want to know the other options in the industry?  Click here for the Facilitators Guide

Credit Union 2.0 — Strategic Planning Options

DREAM (Based on the CU2.0 Book)

Credit Unions are under unprecedented attack from all angles. Thousands of fintechs are collectively hurting the bottom line. Regulators are slowing the industry down.

Credit Union 2.0 outlines the DREAM (Differentiation, Repeat and Reinforce, Educate and Excite, Automate and Motivate) methodology that will help your credit union begin the process of digitally engaging your members, building fierce loyalty, and making them feel the credit union difference.

The Credit Union 2.0 movement teaches why we need to change. It emphasizes key case studies from awesome credit unions, lessons learned from other cooperatives, and strategies for creating fierce loyalty.

Some highlights from Credit Union 2.0 include The ultimate first 100 Day Experience, Hacking your CU’s Repeated Mistakes, and Education = Trust | Trust = Sales.

Finally, Credit Union 2.0 will provide an optimistic outline of the credit union of tomorrow. Such a credit union digitally engages members, builds fierce loyalty, scales gracefully, and makes your members feel like they own the place!


Kirk Drake, a serial entrepreneur focused on credit union technology and author of CU 2.0, reveals his P.A.I.N.T. strategy you can use to make your credit union more competitive, more creative and more in tune with today’s digital expectations.

If you have struggled with corporate culture, agility, moving faster, or competing with the onslaught of new Fintechs, the P.A.I.N.T. methodology will help your credit union quickly iterate and apply key “Operating System” Strategies to better engage your members.

Take home these 5 tools:

  1. Painted Picture
  2. Analytics Plan
  3. Innovation and Agility Hacks
  4. Nimble Algorithms
  5. Terminate

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