Ohio University Credit Union: Focusing Leadership on Strategic Shift

How OUCU used the strategic planning process to bring the senior leadership team out of the operational “whirlwind” and ensure they focus on the strategic shift needed to grow.


The Challenge:

While the Credit Union’s senior leadership are all very experienced banking professionals with a track record of profitable success, they lacked experience developing and implementing a strategic plan that would affect a strategic change in the organization’s direction and future.

The Outcome:

A collaborative strategic planning process that didn’t just result in an actionable plan, but provided the hands-on education of what is (and is not) strategic—providing the senior leadership team with a clearer path to delegating operations to their teams and elevating their efforts to focus on the strategic goals that will help OUCU achieve its vision.

The Vision:

To be the most trusted, respected & innovative financial partner in our community by meeting members’ needs in every phase of life.

The Approach:

While OUCU enjoyed many years of profitability and satisfied members, the CEO recognized the need to shift the organization’s thinking about how they see competitors and growth opportunities. There are simply too many competitors—traditional and in fintech—for OUCU to assume that continuing “business as usual” would allow OUCU to retain, let alone win new members.

The CEO was confident that his team can run the credit union effectively, but he knew they needed to ‘up their game’ when it came to identifying strategic opportunities and setting their focus on the shift to grow after many years of flat membership. The CEO asked OnStrategy to help his team identify and focus on the strategies needed to increase membership.

Because the world of consumer banking is rapidly changing, OUCU’s CEO wanted to help his leadership team combine their knowledge with new approaches to identify and solve the organization’s weaknesses, capitalize on its opportunities, and address threats. It was important to the organization’s future that the leadership team have a structured way to explore new priorities and identify creative solutions.

Through a series of remotely facilitated planning sessions, OnStrategy’s Outsourced Chief Strategy Officer guided OUCU through the strategic planning process over 5 weeks. At each session, the Outsourced Chief Strategy Officer provided explicit instructions and worksheets for completing each planning phase’s content, which the OUCU team did together, offline following each session. Prior to each session, OnStrategy reviewed the content from the previous session so that the team was ready for each next step. Regular one-on-one check-ins with the CEO kept the process and the plan on-track.

Having come to OnStrategy with a Mission, Core Values, and Vision, OnStrategy helped OUCU develop its:

  • Current State: OnStrategy’s Outsourced Chief Strategy Officer showed OUCU how to use data to create a SWOT and to synthesize the SWOT to inform key elements of their strategic plan.
  • Growth Strategy: OnStrategy helped define OUCU’s competitive advantages, including how to win and where to play. Defining where OUCU will (and will not) achieve its growth for the next 3 years.
  • Strategic Priorities: OnStrategy’s Outsourced Chief Strategy Office helped the team identify 4 Strategic Objectives clearly detailing where senior leadership must focus most of their effort, requiring them to delegate more of the day-to-day operations to their direct reports.
  • Organization Goals: OnStrategy helped the team develop SMART, cross-functional goals, breaking down functional area silos that had previously inhibited integrated, collaborative efforts.
  • 2019 Initiatives: Making the strategic plan actionable for senior leadership and their direct reports was a critical outcome for OUCU.

The Deliverables

After completing its strategic plan, OUCU and OnStrategy designed an implementation program that would engage leadership and managers and would provide confidence-inspiring reporting to its board. With the OnStrategy application as the plan implementation tool, OUCU has a dynamic, easy-to-use resource for keeping the organization focused and thinking strategically:

  • 3-Year Strategic Plan: With long-term and near-term organizational goals.
  • Annual Corporate Plan with Measures & Performance Targets: With measurable performance measures and annual targets, as well as 1-year strategic initiatives that cascade to the next level of the organization.
  • Implementation Management: OnStrategy designed the Credit Union’s first-ever strategic implementation program providing the structure for the leadership team to hold constructive and motivating strategic conversations on a regular basis, and a method for reporting its progress against plan to OUCU’s board and the rest of the organization.

The Results

  • Focus: The leadership team remains focused on the strategic goals that will affect the growth needed—and they’re talking about strategic things. Every month.
  • Alignment: A co-created plan with cross-functional goals ensures OUCU’s functional teams work together, not in silos.
  • Accountability: Each senior leader knows his / her role, as well as their dependencies on one another and they are actively and openly sharing their progress and asking for help when they need it.
  • Clear Reporting: Structured, up-to-date reporting allows everyone, including the Board, to know the organization’s progress against its strategic plan.

Convinced? Let’s build something together.


Join 60,000 other leaders engaged in transforming their organizations.

Subscribe to get the latest agile strategy best practices, free guides, case studies, and videos in your inbox every week.

Keystone bright-path authority-partners iowa caa maw maryland mc kissimmee dot washoe gulf reno