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From the October-01, 2008 issue of Credit Union Times Magazine • Subscribe!
Altura CU Keeps Strategic Planning From Getting Moldy
RIVERSIDE, Calif. -- Altura Credit Union is breaking its board out of the typical strategic planning meeting mold.<p>This year the credit union has transformed its strategic planning session into a four-day mini conference. In addition, Altura CU invited St. Joseph, Mich.-based United Federal Credit Union to join them in a collaborative exchange of ideas.</p><p>According to Altura CU President/CEO Mark Hawkins the changes had been in the works since last year's meeting with the dual goal of addressing timing and format.</p><p>"As far as timing, we wanted to move the meeting up earlier in the year from late summer to early spring, which would give us more opportunity to assess what was accomplished the previous year, what we need to do for the next period and have more time to plan the budget impact out," said Hawkins. "With the format, we felt that sometimes with the day-and-a-half historically for planning the amount of information, which includes our four affiliates, our volunteers had to respond to, well it's like drinking through a fire hose. We didn't think it was fair or equitable so we pulled back to try to give them more time and came up with the idea of a mini conference."</p><p>Rather than cramming everything into a two-day session, the Altura Planning Conference would last four days and include nationally known speakers.</p><p>With Continental Federal Credit Union CEO Tom Glatt acting as facilitator, speakers included CUNA Mutual Group President Jeff Post, Callahan & Associates President Chip Filson, CMG Executive Vice President/Chief Products Officer David Lundgren, Cornerstone Advisors Principal Steve Williams and NACUSO President/CEO Tom Davis.</p><p>"We wanted to create a format with broader perspectives from outside speakers and then use the last day-and-a-half to talk about how it relates back to Altura and what we want to do for next year," said Hawkins.</p><p>He added that the extended format was designed to give participants an opportunity to interact, socialize, relax and, most importantly, digest the information that was presented.</p><p>In addition to the speakers and working sessions, the conference also included golfing, a cocktail reception and dinner together each evening to further the exchange of ideas.</p><p>The United Federal CU connection actually goes back to 2006, when it merged with First Resource Credit Union. Hawkins had a long relationship with First Resource's CEO Dave Wyland and the credit union became the first to partner with Altura's Auto Expert CUSO. Wyland passed away suddenly, shortly after the merger, and United's new CEO Gary Easterling was unaware of the relationship with Altura. Over time, he began to hear about it from staffers and contacted Hawkins.</p><p>"About January of this year, I went out to visit Mark Hawkins and renew acquaintances and he extended the invitation to come to their planning session in the spring," said Easterling. "It was a great opportunity to see another credit union planning and Mark really hit a home run with this idea of a collaborative conference. My team and board came back from the conference pumped and excited."</p><p>United Federal attendees included Easterling, Board Vice Chair J.B. Hoyt, Board Treasurer Jim Rothfuchs, Board Secretary Anson Lovellette, Executive Vice President Finance/Technology Mark Weber and Executive Vice President Member Service Duane Nelson. According to Easterling, in addition to brand new information from the speakers, the team and board really enjoyed spending time with their Altura colleagues.</p><p>"It was great to watch another board from across the country in action facing many of the same challenges we do and the collaborative environment created a burning sense of enthusiasm to create change," said Easterling. "The longer breaks allowed people to digest and discuss the information so when you got to the actual planning everyone was on the same page and could contribute."</p><p>He added that the format and length of the conference also enabled him to better connect with his board members, and he has incorporated the idea of having industry speakers at United Federal's board planning session in August.</p><p>Hawkins says the board feedback has also been overwhelmingly positive at Altura. "They enjoyed having other people there and rather than hinder performance, it provided an opportunity to experience another perspective."</p><p>--email@example.com</p>
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