FcISHERS, Ind. -- Credit unions are going through a defining moment and have an opportunity to figure out what they stand for and come up with a strategic plan to get where they want to be.
That was the outlook from Robert Falcone, an adviser for JRF Consulting Services, who spoke at the CU Water Cooler Symposium about his experience at Nike during a pivotal moment in its history.
After enjoying decades of fertile growth, Nike faced a significant down year in 1994 and needed to regain its bearings. The company formulated a long-term strategy for becoming a global company that included signing the top athletes in each sport. As one example of the strategy's success, the golf department went from $50 million to $700 million after signing Tiger Woods.
"If you focus and put your strategic plan together, great things can happen," Falcone said.
He urged credit unions to do an honest analysis of their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and warned them not to ignore what the information reveals. He also advised CUs to be realistic about their goals, measure their successes and failures and revise their strategic plan to reflect lessons learned.
"Review it and update it often, don't just put it on the shelf," he said.
Falcone argued that boards should not be involved with strategic planning. Their role is oversight, he said, and while they can critique and ask questions about the plan presented to them by the management team, they should not be creating the plan.
In response to a request for advice for credit unions that are "too nice to fire people," Falcone said CUs get stuck with stagnant employees because they aren't evaluating them. He therefore recommended that CUs provide each staff member with a personal plan and hold him or her accountable to an individual set of goals.
Addressing a comment that credit unions are too quick to blame the economy for their woes, Falcone suggested that CUs take stock of the situation by looking at their competitors. If the other players in your market are growing, ask yourself why your credit union isn't. However, if everybody's hurting, your plan might be to hold your ground and keep existing members happy.