Why can’t the sky be purple?” said the three-year-old on the way to the park. “Because it’s blue,” was her mother’s brilliant reply. The child’s response: “But, why?” Just as the mother started in on an explanation of the electromagnetic spectrum, she stopped with a more strategic thought. Wasn’t “because it’s blue” the kind of easy answer we use to respond to hard questions all the time?
What color is the sky in your world? Why? If you think you’re too busy to ponder such fantasy questions, think again. Or better yet, think strategically, suggests Michael Hudson, Ph.D., founder and principal of Credit Union Strategy in Rehoboth Beach, Del.
“Getting outside of your mindset of what the business model has always been is critical to an ongoing process of robust strategic dialogue about issues,” he says.
For example, Hudson says credit union boards should be discussing how technology actually is changing at least the landscape, if not the skies, in their marketplaces.
“Credit unions used to have a leg up because they were tied to the community, and most still do, but technology—Quicken, mobile, online banking, etc.—is changing the community itself, not only how we serve it.”
Pushing yourself and others to ask out-of-the box, challenging, even unusual questions, and discussing the bigger-picture strategic issues, like how technology is changing community, “is a big part of how you develop a strategic thinking cap that the board wears every time it meets, not just at an annual planning session,” Hudson adds.
“The tendency is to make strategic planning a ‘check-the-box’ activity with a ‘we did it; now let’s get back to work’ mindset. But that’s actually dangerous,” he stresses. “If you don’t engage ongoing strategic thinking, the credit union’s nucleus (foundation of safety and soundness) will ultimately weaken.”