Focus on the win

What to do NEXT

NOW that you have had the chance to rethink, reorganize and re-prioritize, the next step to take is to decide what to do NEXT.

Of course, what you do next will depend a lot on what the economy does. Depending upon which “expert” you listen to, the economy will likely mimic one of two classic races in the Midwest. It will either restart like the Kentucky Derby (starting gun fires, 20 horses sprint out of the gates, and it’s over just as quickly) or the Indy 500 (pace car gets 33 drivers warmed up before they run 200 laps).

Obviously, no one really knows what the economy will actually do, but I’m pretty sure it will take more than two minutes (sorry, Derby fans). Besides, credit unions don’t usually have a sprinter’s physique.

But if we go with our hometown Indy 500 analogy, then you better put on your helmet and buckle up behind the wheel, because you’ll want to be up to speed once the race gets going.

First, make sure everyone is moving in the same direction

NOW that you’ve done your research, you know what is working and what isn’t. You’ve listened to your members and learned how current events have changed their lives. You know there are processes and products that need to be fixed, and things that people will need that are not necessarily what you are used to offering.

But not everyone knows what you know.

So you need to help everyone understand what the problems are, then agree to work together on finding solutions. Unless everyone is heading in the same direction, you won’t make it through a lap before the yellow caution flag comes out.

Focus on the win

With all of the uncertainty these days, be sure to focus on a project that has a high probability for success.

Maybe you decide to build a program for members helping members, or want to get 500 people signed up for a new financial fitness class. Maybe it’s a concerted effort of collecting success stories, members that are finding ways to save money, build their emergency savings, land new jobs, etc.

Or is it finally time to improve things internally? Turn that early 2000s website into a mobile-first marketing tool? Move all paper forms to digital? Add interactive tellers instead of more branches? Rethink your personal loan products?

Whatever you decide, make sure everyone knows the desired end result, then build your strategy backwards. You want everyone to know where the finish line is, so that they can help make the right decisions along the way.

Think week(s), not month(s)

Be sure to set the shortest timeline possible for this phase, because you want to be ready when the economy kicks in again. Plus a tight time constraint helps to bring focus to a project.

Put a daily/weekly schedule down in writing so that everyone knows the deadlines and stays on track.

Pick your pit crews

Large groups have never been good at innovation, so you want small, nimble groups that can think individually, yet still recognize good ideas when they come from someone else.

Split into teams of 4-8 people, just as you would for a brainstorm session. Be sure to mix it up – you want to get a wide variety of input from people that work in different disciplines and have different experiences. If you still need to round out the balance or speed up the process, don’t be afraid to bring in some outside help.

Assign specific tasks to everyone, complete with deadlines. Have them look at all available options, fill in any missing pieces, then bring in their findings to review as a group. Which parts are usable? Which can be combined with something else? What could you do to improve on those ideas? What would you do instead?

Throughout the process, be sure to track progress in a central location so that everyone knows what is working and can provide input. And when your schedule tells you to decide, vote on one direction to complete.

Test. Try. Repeat.

As soon as you get close, start testing within your crew. Bring in additional staff next, then test with member volunteers. Be sure to take a look at the results after every step, so that you can adjust that valve as needed to get you across the finish line first.

Celebrate your win, then get ready for your next race

If you don’t let people know about what you created, it won’t have the result you planned on. Be sure to shine the spotlight on what your team accomplished before you start on your next project.

Kent Dicken

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