Vision is the foundation of a successful gameplan

Close your eyes and imagine this: you are a player for your favorite college football team. Your team had a winning regular season, and is about to play in one of the BCS bowl games. Millions of fans are going to be watching the televised game, and there is a lot at stake for your team and your school to bring home a win.

Do you think the team is just going to practice hard and wish for the best when game day comes? Absolutely not. Good coaches will prepare weeks in advance by scouting the competition, viewing tapes, putting together a solid gameplan, and remaining vigilant during the game so they can make adjustments as needed.

Let me translate this to what successful credit unions do…they have a gameplan!

One of the first steps to carrying out your credit union’s gameplan is to enumerate a vision that clearly illuminates the future direction of the organization. I’m not going to spend this post focusing on how to write a good vision statement because there are some great resources available, but a good vision statement:

  • Challenges
  • Inspires
  • Focuses
  • Illustrates
  • Evokes emotion

The gameplan for Members First Credit Union’s Culture Standards began with a common vision that was formulated during our Brand Celebration In-service Day in February of this year. The staff spent the day together discussing the things that we think makes the credit union a great place to bank and work. We also talked about our current membership, who we are best-suited to serve, and envisioned the experience we wanted to ultimately deliver to our members.

This day-long exercise helped us shape a vision for the future of our credit union: “to be the ultimate financial services provider delivering the best experience to our members.” Moreover, it inspired the staff to start thinking big about the direction in which the credit union is going and, furthermore, see their direct roles in our success.

The compelling evidence for a vision stemmed from three realizations. The first being that we spent many years doing increasingly targeted and sophisticated marketing campaigns to members and non-members with direct mail, billboards, newspaper ads and more while still experiencing negligible results with very costly price tags. Referral campaigns registered members and potential members to win big prizes, such as tickets to the Ohio State vs. Michigan football game, iPads, high-value gift cards and more yielded still only marginal growth. Knowing there was a better way to make die-hard fans out of our members to cultivate our future growth was a big step in the right direction for us.

Secondly, knowing that my credit union needed a vision and to develop its culture was magnified as a result of studying some of the most successful companies of today such as Starbucks, Zappos, Microsoft, and Disney. What differentiates these companies from their competitors is that each has a clearly-defined 15-25-year vision for the company. While not all successful companies have the very best product on the market, it is their dedication to a vision and the way they execute their gameplan (with the goods to back it up) that sets them apart.

Lastly, Members First Credit Union’s business model means we consistently seek to:

  • Take care of our members
  • Take care of the community
  • Grow and move forward

This “back-to-basics” approach for our gameplan is in direct line with our credit union’s vision.  

Vision is a moving target.  We’ll never actually get there.  But, with a solid gameplan and sound execution, we’ll be ever-closer to being the “ultimate financial institution delivering the best experience to our members.”  

What it all comes down to is remembering that we are member-driven as Members First’s Core Value #1 states.  Being member-owned is a reminder that we need to be good stewards of our resources.  We owe it to our members to have a vision and gameplan so we can win the game for each and every of them.   

Regardless if your team wins games by passing the ball, running the ball, or with an impenetrable defense, my question to you: “is your team’s gameplan highlighted by a vision?”