How to Select a Credit Union Strategic Planning Facilitator?

It’s a wild world out there. Disruptive technologies are forcing us to completely reconsider our credit union strategies. If you want your financial institution to be ready for the rocky, futuristic road ahead, you may want to bring on a credit union strategic planning facilitator.

Each summer, hundreds of credit union boards and executives gather at a beautiful offsite location to dream about the future. First comes the icebreaker, then some tough questions. Along the way, we will cover industry trends and peer data before finally jumping into planning. We whip out our sticky notes, markers, and easels, and we begin to democratically home in on a future we can all (mostly) agree with.

Meanwhile, fintechs and non-traditional competitors are breathing down our doors. What if the age-old credit union strategic planning process is too slow. What if our modern world needs modern experts?

If you love the time-honored traditions, are afraid of different viewpoints, or simply don’t want to upset the apple cart, CU2.0 is probably not for you. However, if you want a bold view that focuses on transformational change that will leave a legacy decades from now, read on!

So, how do you select a credit union strategic planning facilitator?

5 Key Criteria to Select a Credit Union Strategic Planning Facilitator

strategic planning for credit unions

  1. Industry Experience
  2. Facilitation Technique
  3. Understanding of Key Trends
  4. Financial Model Understanding
  5. Credit Union Board and Management Expertise

Industry Experience

Credit Unions are a unique animal. We are half non-profit, half cooperative, and half bank. Yes, we know we can’t add. But every aspect of how credit unions plan, fund, and work is different from other businesses in many ways.

Our ways are both our strategic advantage and our Achilles heel. Because of this, having a facilitator that gets the “credit union difference” is essential. Without this alignment, you will waste precious time explaining to the outsider the difference between a credit union and a bank (or why we can’t just raise more capital).

Understanding of ALM, member onboarding, digital blueprints, board governance, and the NCUA are all key elements that your credit union strategic planning consultant should possess.

Facilitation Technique

If you have been through multiple credit union planning sessions, then many of these will feel familiar:

  • Action Planning
  • Brainstorming
  • Energizer
  • Flipchart
  • Go Wild
  • Ground Rules
  • Group Review
  • Ice Breakers
  • Meta-planning
  • Multi-voting
  • Ranking
  • Reverse Brainstorming
  • Round Robin
  • Structure Problem Solving
  • 3-Star Rating
  • Working in pairs or trios
  • All these credit union planning session facilitation techniques are key ways to derive engagement, get involvement, and make sure all key parties are excited and energized by the process.

Make sure you pick a facilitator that has a large bag of facilitation tricks and techniques. In our experience, each board or management team has different hot button issues. Being able to switch gears when one approach isn’t working is a key criteria for making your selection.

Understanding of Key Trends

Sometimes it is hard to see the forest for the trees. If your credit union strategic planning facilitator is still focused on issues and trends from 10 years ago, you might have a problem. It is absolutely essential to find a consultant who can provide a realistic view of the key trends facing the industry and your credit union.

These days, any realistic view should include artificial intelligence, CUSOs, fintech’s, ever changing demographics, and key disruptors. Now more than ever, the future of credit unions will be impacted by non-traditional competitors, cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.

Financial Model Understanding

While trends are essential at the end of the day, credit unions are member-owned cooperatives that must make some money to survive long-term. Picking a facilitator who can balance modern asset liability management needs with growth concerns is essential.

Credit Union Board and Management Experience

Stories are one of the best ways to relate and change perspectives. Whether it is a key question, insight, or lesson learned, having facilitators who have been on credit union boards, worked at credit unions, or consulted in solving real credit union problems is essential.

 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 the 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.

Credit Union 2.0 — 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:

  • Painted Picture
  • Analytics Plan
  • Innovation and Agility Hacks
  • Nimble Algorithms
  • Terminate

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