Strategic Planning Roadmap Featured at NWCUA Volunteers’ Conference

Developing, activating and evaluating a credit union’s strategic plan proved key themes presented by Cindy Barrick to credit union directors at the Northwest Credit Union Association (NWCUA) Volunteers’ Conference last week in Spokane, Wash.

Barrick, a three-decade veteran of the credit union industry, including eight years as a CEO, emphasized the importance of developing and nurturing a strategic plan. A key takeaway of her presentation was the necessity of integrating strategy with execution.

“It is critical that a board of directors link their strategic plan with the credit union’s mission statement, core values and vision statement,” Barrick told attendees. She also made it clear that, once developed, the plan must be quantifiable. Without the ability to measure the progress of the credit union toward achieving stated benchmarks renders the plan useless and makes it difficult for management to achieve the desired goals.

Financial goals, for example, may be to increase earnings while lowering operating expenses. Member objectives could be measurable increases in the use of multiple products and services while improving member satisfaction.

Barrick guided the audience through the strategic planning process and made particular note of scanning the environment in developing a plan. The environment includes external forces, such as political, regulatory and societal influences, as well as internal factors, such as identifying available financial resources, human capital, innovation capacity and other capabilities.

This can be challenging for any credit union, large or small, as the factors to be weighed are numerous, and it is not possible to address all of them equally. Barrick pointed out that choices need to be made and a prioritized list developed to help guide plan development.

Once developed—and once an execution strategy has been implemented—the entire organization must focus on arriving at the strategic destination.

The financial services marketplace is in constant evolution, and it is important that directors continually monitor their strategic plan to see if the changing environment continues to validate their execution efforts. That reality comes into focus when evaluating outcomes and “scoring” the results through a balanced scorecard that includes accountability for both the CEO and the board of directors.

Barrick summed up the presentation with the key steps to strategic planning success: clarify your strategy, drive performance, execute, and monitor, learn and adapt.


Questions? Contact Training Programs Coordinator Yuri Jung: 206.340.4817,

Posted in Events, NWCUA.