Strategic Planning : Let’s Get Visual, Visual.

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You’re in the zone. It’s Fall, another year almost on the books. It’s strategy session time… again. That glorious ‘event’ each year to assess and define new strategy, goals and great ideas.
New and old faces?  Same silos?  New approach or old standby?  Maybe different Apps?
Before heading to your session…
Step back and think about your culture. The team. The strategy. The perspective and awareness of what the company’s strategy is and where it’s headed. Regardless of where a team member sits, it is in sync? How does it feel? Not just efficient, yet effective, socially progressive and business purpose impressive.

Make the time to slow down, look in the mirror and determine how well your strategic planning process is perceived, performing and assessed for real results.
Visual #1: Do you work around this hierarchy and business model?

*credit to Tom Fishburne

*credit to Tom Fishburne

Still hierarchal, connected by linear thinking and neatly packaged in separate boxes.

It’s pretty standard, in stock, and ‘Hey, where’s the customer” mindset ?








Visual #2: Or do you work though this one?

*credit to Lisa Kuhn Phillips, 2009

*credit to Lisa Kuhn Phillips, 2009

This model created, tried and tested in a credit union circa 2010. Created by Lisa from the likes of Jim Collins, Ram Charan, Clay Christensen, John Kotter, Nilofer Merchant, Brian Solis, Walter Bennis and a team that was open to change and transformation.

What is it? It’s an inter-connected heterarchy and evolving model always in motion, yet true to its core business purpose and customer-centered goals.

Some key points:

  • Not hierarchal, but all intersects go to its center, the core purpose – a business experience and service differentiator for your company.
  • Not linear in thought. It cross-populates and cross-pollinates to focus on three connected areas – people development, simple solutions and processes, and integrated service delivery and continual discovery.

What about those intersects between two circles? Relationship building (= Revenue Growth and valued people), e-Commerce (= Revenue Growth and valued solutions) and e-Support (= Revenue sustainability and authentic management).

Do you see a consistent theme here?

  • No boxes. Just Circles. Full Circles. Because, like strategy, people and a performing culture, everything is connected.
  • Follow the money. Or is it the money follows the connected people, processes and performance success?

Your strategy and team just got visual. Now’s the time to make it come to life. In other words, it’s time for your strategy and team to get physical.
*credit to Olivia Newton John.

In{ter}dependence Day{s}

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IMG_1626Yes, the holiday fast approaches this Friday in 2014. How exciting! We the people celebrate our independence here, have a day off, and get back to the meaningful work ahead during our summer months.

Or do we approach the summer as another Independence Day come and gone, another cycle, and a fast moving daze in the year ~ hitting the car and home loan/equity months, seeing the tax refunds slowly dwindle from the checking accounts and still cross selling products and commodity accounts? To branch or go mobile? Probably a little of both. Upcoming retirements? A few resignations. Maybe a bank or retail hire, or two. Throw in a few timely audits, some department projects and maybe some digital training and we’re good to go until back-to-school begins in late summer.


INDEPENDENCE…Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Hope not, at least for the ones who are truly preparing and celebrating…. INTERDEPENDENCE DAYs.

You know, the smart ones. The companies and teams who have been steadily and readily preparing for the digital transformation and collaborative economy over the last several years. It’s here, or beginning to go mainstream and crest. Are you ready for it?

Ask yourself and do a “give my company” credit check on these 3 areas of interdependency in our new knowledge environment.

Your Company’s internal organization and culture.  Your team and ‘known’ company vibe.

  •   Structure moving from Hierarchy to a flatter matrix organization – egos replaced with WEgo together.
  • Empowered AND responsible colleagues who courageously collaborate and initiate necessary change. They are continually developing, learning the digital/mobile skills and can readily talk …in non-lingo speak to one another.
  • Silo’s dissolving and/or gone. Resource centers, rather than “departments apart”, who provide knowledge, value and perform for the entire team, not only for their area of specialization. 

Your Company’s partnerships with quality vendors, service providers and suppliers. Some may call these 3rd parties. How about extended family team?

  • Your current partnerships are in alignment with your vision, mission and business values. The relationship is not strained and still of value to you and your membership. Accounts Payable authorization is not a burden to bear for the results and relationship value you receive.
  • Risk assessment of your company priorities, projects and work flows continues. You know where effectiveness and efficiencies can be gained through outsourced expertise, rather than current in-house talent. You’ve done your homework and have prepared your team to adopt the service fully.
  • Your valued partner’s partners are growing as well and are in alignment with your needs in the future. You recognize the economies of quality scale and potential opportunities with less friction, quality integration and reasonable financial outlay.

Your clients. Your members. Your community.  Your meaningful purpose.

  • Your Clients and members understand and actively utilize the solutions provided. You are retaining quality and keenly shedding the unhealthy ones. Your clients aren’t worried about paying for quality; they know the service experience and solutions you provide are of benefit and value.
  • Business clients are asking how they can get full 360° relationship benefits, not only loans or lines, for their company’s success. Non-interest income opportunities are springing up. Now the business owners want to ensure they can retain their talented team by offering your individual solutions and benefits. The “select employee group” has evolved into “select financial services group” relationship.
  • Your community investment is felt, seen and trusted. Not by merely stroking a check, but investing time, hiring talent and sustaining a growing community through valued community outreach, involvement and pride.

That’s the Interdependency credit checklist. Are you chanting your team name, loud and proud? Hope you’re feeling it, and smiling on July 3, 4, 5, 6 and so on.

If not, you may want to be aware of the following independence business symptoms in the new economy.

Warning on the possible side effects:

RED   in a quite a few areas of your balance sheet, depleting cash flows and income statement trends.

WHITE   as in ‘doe in the headlights, see the WHITE of your eyeballs, ears hissing’ glaze,


BLUE    because you’re bruised from hitting your head against the wall repeatedly.


Make the change. You know it takes a team, a culture, great partners, businesses and a community to thrive. Start your quest for interdependence on the 5th.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Spring – Clean, Break and Training

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Now more than ever we are ready shed our weathered old coat and prepare for our Spring renewal.  No, we aren’t talking about the weather, but about Financial Services in 2014.


Whether it’s Spring Break, Spring Cleaning or Spring Training, we could all use a refresher on this year’s “Do’s” and Don’ts” in the new and improved 21st century financial arena.


Are we moving in the right direction (forward) ?

Are we cleaning up  status quo standards?

Are we ready to hit a home run in the coming months?


Is your answer “yes” to one or all of the questions? Great. Let’s prepare for a good purge (the don’ts) and invest in the right splurge (the just do’s).

Marketing Don’ts: Commoditize

  • Avg 3.2 products or more
  • Mad Mortgage Maximums
  • Fast Fee Followers and Fine Print
  • Promote Wealthy Behaviors

Cultural Don’ts

  • Consensus & Silent Majority
  • Hierarchy – Linear Thinking
  • Telling & Teaching – One Way

Financial Don’ts

  • Balance Sheet, Black & White surface clean and read
  • Short Term Gain with Long Term Pain
  • Operational Efficiency – Costs Only
  • Scale / Partner for quantity

Operational Don’ts

  • Work Silos and Disparate Systems
  • Profit Over Purposeful Matters
  • Tech w/o Training your Talent Timing

Marketing Do’s: Simplfy

  • Spend Relationship Solutions
  • Lend Relationship Solutions
  • Save Relationships Solutions
  • Encourage Wellness Habits

Cultural Do’s

  • Collaboration – Courageous Conflict
  • Hierarchy – Matrix Management
  • Listening & Learning – Two Way

Financial Do’s

  • Income Statement, Trends and Cash Flows
  • Short Term Pain for Long Term Gain
  • Operational Effectiveness Rev Gen
  • Scale / Partner for Quality & Expertise

Operational Do’s

  • Workflow and System Integration
  • Performance and Purpose Matters
  • Talent, Tech, and Market

Too much on the list to handle?

Consider starting with Enterprise Risk Management, Leadership and a Project Management Plan. Assess, Prioritize and Treat with a Team approach. Monitor and remodel for measurable improvement.

Spring Cleaning, Spring Break or Spring Training ~ They happen every year.  Our members, our communities and our team deserve the best we have to provide. Are you ready to get started?

Milkshake It Up

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Clayton Christensen, Harvard Business School professor and disruptive innovation expert, makes us think, doesn’t he?  He inspired me to look for answers to these strategic questions:

Why did we “get hired” as a financial institution? What have we “sold”? How do we ensure it creates a healthier, wealthier and wiser membership?

So back to the fast food story. The job that the credit union “milkshake” was hired to do met that member’s short-term need and want. Did it exceed and truly create a valued, long-term relationship between the member and credit union? Don’t get me wrong, that member keeps coming back for a shake. It’s served with a smile, gives her a stable something to do with her time and helps her get on with her day, but are we doing anything to help her with her not-so-healthy, wealthy nor wise weekly habit?

Are these the typical relationships that many credit unions have prepared for and served up through our collective efforts? If so, how’s that job working for – the member, the credit union itself and the community at large? Are we a healthier, wealthier and wiser community for the job we’ve done?

Or maybe, just maybe, your credit union has been able to move your members from a “job you were hired to do” into “work you are actively engaged to grow with” as partners? Has your message centered on getting in shape together, engaging in real discovery and finding out how to best serve it up?

If the answer is no to any of these questions, consider these options:

  • Healthy engagement. Let’s learn, listen and serve our members over time with a money matters approach of fitness and moderation built on the save, spend and reasonable borrow  concepts. Let’s blend technology for ease with human connectedness for care.
  • Wealthy engagement. Is our work about members’ amassing money? Or making the members wealthier in financial behavior for their own peace of mind? Depends on the lifestyle and your target. So approach service from a seek to understand view, then share for beneficial purpose. We should be stewards and help people live within their means. 
  • Wise engagement. We prosper through mutual understanding and positive actions that make us learn our lessons and share our truths. A long-term relationship can handle hard truths and real vulnerabilities when delivered in wise, personally connected ways.

So what does all of this have to do with building our brand? Our product, pricing, promotion, placement, people and payment choices? Everythingif you intend to influence the hearts, heads and souls of your members and potential ones.  Finding that delicate blend of engaging with, and then shaping up, those we serve. We have the P’s of marketing, now it’s time to get all the parts in better shape. How will you measure success? (yet another blog and one ripe for innovative disruption as well.)

Three steps to a better brand message and culture

  1.      Market (brand) consistency. Our people, practices, processes and communication must be connected with the message. Engage with purposeful financial sharing and deliver with human context and consistency. Practice makes…performance results.
  2.      Operational agility. Our work disciplines, people, processes and programs should strive to create ease in understanding and follow-through. Decisions and actions should support long-term value and create necessary short-term revenues for the credit union and most importantly, its membership.
  3.      Technology integration. Our channels and connections should be designed and aligned with an agile (and security stable) infrastructure, effectively leveraged service provider partnerships, intelligent data analysis, and social media connectedness (that’s your feedback loop, free of charge).

Listen, educate and amaze members through brand consistency, operating agility and technology integration. You’ll watch the real relationships grow and the revenue rewards will follow – in dollars and common sense.

So Milkshake it up.  Get Brand connected. Stay agile. Integrate Technology. Offer your membership healthier, wealthier, and wiser financial choices.