Strategic Planning and the Power of No

By Mark Arnold02.12.2018

After many years of helping facilitate bank and credit union strategic planning sessions, I can safely say one thing: people love adding to their “to do” list.

For the most part, this is a good thing. After all, that’s what strategic planning sessions are all about – making the tough calls about the right direction to take your bank or credit union over the next few years; however, it’s all too easy for well-meaning strategic team leaders to add way too much to their “to do” list, often at the expense of a realistic strategic plan.

That’s where the “power of no” comes into play. It is human nature to want to add to your “to do” list. After all, the more responsibility you have the more job security you feel. But doing a good job is not tied merely to having an endless list of tasks to check. Saying “no” to things during strategic planning sessions is often in the best interest of your bank or credit union.

How is this possible? Because of bandwidth. Manpower. Human resource allocation. Whatever trendy industry catch phrase you want to use, we’re talking about time. Every bank or credit union (and every employee at those banks and credit unions) has a limited amount of time. Time management experts can prattle on all day about “multitasking,” but most folks realize that in order to truly accomplish a strategic plan goal, you need focus. Being brave enough to say “no” to some things actually empowers you and frees up time to spend on those strategic planning initiatives identified at your session.

Saying “no” is hard. Nobody wants to be the person to turn down something, especially in a work environment while others are watching and listening. You might hurt some feelings. But that’s okay. The more you say “no” to things that don’t truly add to your strategic plan initiatives (or help you accomplish them) the more you can say “yes” to the things that do. Saying “no” often actually opens the door for the resources you need to accomplish strategic planning initiatives.

Mark Arnold is a brand expert and strategic planner who helps credit unions achieve their goals through brand development, strategic marketing, and training.