What Strategic Planning Is – and What It Ain’t

Do you mind if I ask what on Earth you think you’re doing?

I’m sorry, that was rude. I’m not trying to be nosy. But I couldn’t help noticing that you’re doing the old “Mission Statement, SWOT, and Goals” thing. That’s fine. I’m SURE you don’t think that’s the same thing as strategic planning.

Do you?

At least tell me you’re not taking last year’s budget and making alterations and calling THAT planning. Budgeting is not planning—and budgeting does NOT create results. Never has. Never will.

But you know that. Otherwise you’ll be like the 95 percent of banks who limp along with a plan and execution process that allows for nothing more than marginal results. And right when the economy is culling the herd. But that’s not you, I’m sure.

Is it? Oh dear.

Strategy clarifies how you will operate your bank. It answers the essential “WHY” questions: Why are we developing this product? Why are we setting this rate? Why are we marketing to these potential customers? Will these efforts produce results that are in line with our values?

And the research is clear, the leading predictor of future growth and profitability culture—by strategy is the second….so it’s important.

So, how do you not fumble this year’s strategic planning process? Some key questions to ask:

Does your strategic plan act more as a paperweight than a useable document? Consolidate your plan to one page—where all elements have intentional congruence and they are all highly scrutinized so you really can dig in. And does it all tie together—core values, BHAG, Vision, key initiatives, etc.?

Do you put together your budget and then write your strategic plan to fit the numbers?   Okay, that’s REALLY a Bad Plan—and some banks still think budgeting is planning. The problem is, they better budget for bad results—because without the right strategies, that’s inevitable.

Is every one and every thing tied into the plan with weekly visible accountability? The plan is about getting everyone and everything in alignment, and visibly accountable to it.  

Does your board insist the CEO and President produce results and hit plan?   Well, that’s how this thing works. So….the only way they can keep their jobs is by people hitting their results and numbers. That’s just how business works.

Competition for financial dollars is fierce. You need a strong, smart strategic process to pull out ahead of your competitors and stand out from the crowd.

Roxanne Emmerich

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