You’re right on time to begin planning for planning season. To help you kick off your conversations, have a look at the Planning Canvas developed by THINK Lab presenters and strategic consultants Jeanette Thebeau and Ivan Askwith, that helps you assess your current situation, set relevant and achievable goals, and begin the process of executing.
Why open the canvas now, if planning doesn’t begin for a few months? “If you do the exercises in the canvas from left to right, you’ll be doing the prep work that will make the planning process less daunting,” says Thebeau. Better still, you’ll have time to bring others in on the process. “Set up a time every week to get together with your team and do an exercise. Assign homework every week, and in eight weeks you’ll be in really good shape to begin planning [in earnest]. This is also a time to try ideas out in focus groups, or talk to your target audience and find out what they’re thinking and what they want.
“By starting the planning process together and working through it, that’s how you get the team to buy in and take ownership,” Thebeau continues.
Begin your planning process by looking at engagement. If you’re using the Planning Canvas, this is the first section on the left. Using a scale of 1 to 10, rate your credit union in the following categories:
- Product offerings
- Branches & locations
- Customer service
- Social responsibility
- Branding elements
- Marketing & communications
As an added exercise, try rating credit unions as a whole using the same categories. This will provide a benchmark against which to measure yourself. “Or,” Thebeau suggests, “Try ratings based on meeting the needs of your existing members, versus addressing the needs of target members.”
Summarize with a list of our strengths and challenges. Where should you put your efforts in the year to come?
PUT YOUR SUBCONSCIOUS TO WORK
If you participated in the THINK 15 Lab, you may already have this piece of the Canvas completed. Take it out and have a fresh look. Who else in your credit union might have a different spin? What if you asked your members to weigh in?
Having time to consult others is one benefit of starting the thought process now. Another is harnessing the power of your subconscious, which will continue to work through these issues even when you aren’t staring at your Canvas. Planning now is also a great way to combat the “hope-ium crash” that happens whenever a busy conference ends and you return, inevitably, to the everyday challenges of running a business. Tend to operations, but take time to plan, puzzle and daydream too. It’s all part of the plan.
BOX: Talk to Your Target
“Find someone who is the modern consumer and talk to them for ten minutes,” Thebeau suggests. “It could be a member; it could be your niece. Ask them, ‘What’s important to you? What’s your motto? What could we be doing that would be helpful to you?’ You’ll find out about what real modern consumers want – and have an easier time trying to define your target audience.”
Next week: Who’s your audience?