Tag Archives: strategic planning

The Art of Execution

by Jeff Rendel, Certified Speaking Professional

Rendel

Jeff Rendel

“I’ll take a well-executed, one-page, written-on-a-legal pad strategic plan over a poorly (if at all) executed, twenty-page, four-color, complete with charts and graphs strategic plan any day. Substance over style – all day long.” Those are the words of a large bank’s CEO as he discussed the value of executing for results. Slapdash, one might think, of his remarks. Effective, others might believe, when recognizing that directors and executives place a premium on the art of execution.

What makes for successful execution? One hundred plus C-level bank leaders provided their insights to that straightforward question. To them, three behaviors stood out as making the biggest difference in the most significant executive skill – execution.

Be precise and disciplined. Coming out of a strategic planning session, it’s easy to be enthusiastic and jump right in to busy undertakings. But, does all of the commotion lead to strategic success? Several CEOs shared that their most valuable tactical planning sessions focused on insisting that all decisions support an end strategic objective. “One of our objectives is to ‘Increase the Measured Lifetime Value of All Customers,’” said one CEO. “That in mind, we ask how every refined and new action – from my desk to the drive-through window – supports lifetime value. Our discipline and connection to a strategic element give us clear direction in all that we do.”

Stretch your team. Like it or not, when CEOs set stretch goals, it changes performance. Too much pressuring can lead to doubting motivations or loss of support; however, the right amount of challenge increases commitment and determination. One CEO described how his team had developed a reasonable and well-designed sales and business development plan that would be fully functioning in 18 months. “What would it take for us to accomplish this in 15 months?” he asked his team. “Include my role, too,” he insisted. He left the room and brought back lunch a few hours later, discovering a better plan for execution than before. In the end, the plan was executed in 13 months, and the team was more engaged and self-assured than before.

Settle conflict with confidence right away. Conflict is natural, especially when a team is composed of leaders from many functional areas. With any project or endeavor, differences will arise, often due to limited resources, time, and patience (personalities are always in the mix). “In every meeting, I ask, ‘What roadblocks are you facing?’ explained one CEO. “I note these challenges on a whiteboard for all parties to see. I also write the objective of our meeting and ask what step – and I ask for one step only – moves us closer to success and away from this test. More often than not, the parties settle the difference and move forward without a need for me to step in. We’re more unified as a team, and I’m a better executive because I kept us moving forward in spite of the trials.”

Leadership experts loosely define “execution” as “the ability to achieve goals and objectives.” Several bank leaders who contributed to this article added “the ability to help others achieve goals and objectives.” Apply your peers’ wisdom as a catalyst in your growth as an executive, working more effectively on your own part and teaching your team leaders how they can do the same.

Jeff Rendel, Certified Speaking Professional, and President of Rising Above Enterprises works with banks that want entrepreneurial results in leadership, sales, and strategy.  Each year, he addresses and facilitates for more than 100 banks and their business partners.

Appetite for Disruption

by Jeff Rendel, Certified Speaking Professional

Rendel

Jeff Rendel

Peer-to-peer lending. Alternative depositories, lenders, and currencies. Digital delivery and wearable technology with payments apps. All cases of tangible, existing, and disruptive influences to your bank’s business model. Disruption is here to stay, and it always has been (remember the arrival of money market accounts, variable-rate mortgages, and that unfeeling, faceless ATM?).

Bank directors and executives realize that disruption and change is relentless. While the business model of deposits and loans can provide profits, directors and executives also recognize that fine-tuning for the future parallels remaining relevant for today. It requires an appetite for disruption. To lead their strategic adaptations, banks need to be their own agents of change and forces of disruption.

Getting your Board on board behind new strategies and ways of serving your customers requires the Chair and CEO to demonstrate the value of new ideas and how they improve more than just financial objectives; they improve a range of growth and relevancy objectives. Here are four ways to gain buy-in for your bank’s do-it-yourself commitment to disruption.

  1. Be a sounding Board. As directors, you want what’s best for your customers; it’s a must for an evolving bank. With your CEO, craft a boardroom dynamic that is aligned with your vision, yet receptive to disruption. Ask your CEO to frequently update, discuss, and introduce new ideas that add value to your bank. As a board, convey your support to your CEO through your readiness to listen to and provide fresh ideas, lend assurance to current and new directions, and give disruptive concepts a tailwind of backing for outstanding execution.
  2. Uphold a spirit of experimentation. One CEO described his board’s support of disruption and intentional change as, “…self-administered inoculation. We’re used to it now.” Promote the notion of constantly experimenting with new ideas and making small changes along the way. Get to know managers and executives who act as internal change agents. Your board benefits as it understands practical change from the experiences of those working daily on your bank’s future.
  3. Look outside the bank. Consumer trends and expectations tell a story, regardless of industry. Technological advances reach beyond Silicon Valley. What are these changes, how do they affect your bank, and what do your customers expect? Your bank has the opportunity to match your delivery with forward-thinking products, services, and experiences. Your board’s awareness of consumer changes gives it an appreciation for agility, allowing your bank to meet disruption with a plan for action.
  4. Know the numbers and the stories. Disruption leads to change and change is monitored to gauge success. Your board’s fiduciary responsibility requires that it balance risk with reward, all with an eye toward safety and soundness. As your board reviews the quantitative and financial data of operations and major initiatives, don’t overlook the qualitative and first-hand evidence that tells the stories of your customers’ successes with your disruptive changes on their behalves. Your board witnesses success in the financial statements, but also in the lives of the customers and owners it represents.

The business of your bank is completely different than it was ten years ago. And, ten years from now, it will entirely change again. Disruption has a permanent place in your bank. An appetite for disruption has a permanent place in your board room. Serve your customers well today by creating the bank they will expect tomorrow.

© 2015 by Jeff Rendel. All rights reserved.

Jeff Rendel, Certified Speaking Professional, and President of Rising Above Enterprises works with banks that want entrepreneurial results in leadership, sales, and strategy.  Each year, he addresses and facilitates for more than 100 banks and their business partners.www.jeffrendel.com

Relevance from the Outside-In

by Jeff Rendel, Certified Speaking Professional

Rendel

Jeff Rendel

One of the more valuable questions for executives and directors to ask as your bank continues along its path of strategic thinking and planning is, “What’s my/our vision for our bank’s customers?” Of the numerous answers that have come across this desk, few have focused on a measure, such as reaching a certain asset size to provide more services. Most replies involve continued relevance in customers’ lives. After all, if relevance is absent, it’s challenging to grow to that certain asset size to provide more services.

Developing this kind of far-sighted view is a dependable and useful display of leadership for your customers. It seldom involves a middle-of-the-night “a-ha” moment; most often, it’s built from daily insights you can use to generate and reinforce strategies that uphold your vision. Below are five “outside-in” ways that five bank leaders utilize to practically recognize and discover how their banks might adjust to remain relevant for customers.

  1. Learn and increase your PFI status. Understanding where your customers keep most of their business is important, given the full range of existing providers (some are not even depository institutions). Published in 2015, The Wallet Allocation Rule, discusses how wallet share is a primary driver of satisfaction and loyalty (the authors show it even more effective than the Net Promoter Score). We also learn that customers who don’t indicate your bank as their PFI offer valuable insights as to why they bank elsewhere (spoiler alert: technology, ATMs, and branches). Who are your PFI customers? Why do they remain loyal? What customers don’t consider your bank their PFI? Why are they so loyal to another institution?
  2. Make everything easy. Several years ago, the Harvard Business Review ran an article discussing the “Customer Effort Score.” In short, it described that the easier a business is to transact with, the more likely consumers will buy again. Look over every process and touch point at your bank. Where could you make it easier for your customers? What steps could be shortened or eliminated? How might you simplify and streamline customer access? Where could your customers experience frustration and discontinue a process? Making customer interactions easier and more user-friendly could be a driver of increased PFI status.
  3. Hold focus groups. Your formats may vary – a cross-section of all customers, a target demographic, an ongoing group, and more. What’s important is to hear their thoughts on products, services, and experiences – now, and for the future. Even more important is to listen and act where themes reveal areas for improvement, innovation, and beneficial solutions. Chances are your focus group customers will describe positive experiences and new levels of expectations that they receive outside of your bank, even outside of financial services. Are there consumer experiences they appreciate elsewhere that may have a unique application at your bank?
  4. Look outside of financial services. When you’ve finished this article and issue, get outside of your bank and learn how other retail-focused businesses are serving and selling to consumers. Your customers’ expectations don’t change when they leave one retail store and enter your bank; the expectations are just as high. What are your customers experiencing in their other consumer lives (design, marketing, service, technology, etc.)? How can your bank remain relevant to their experiences and expectations in the general marketplace?
  5. Network outside of banks. It’s easy to pick up the phone and call a bank friend to bounce an idea around. You should do this regularly; it’s valuable and a casual way to refine your strategies. However, perspectives from other executives can give you new insights into successful marketing, operations, sales, and more. Your friends from the Chamber of Commerce, CEO groups like Vistage, and local business leader luncheons can provide valuable principles learned from their successes and allow you to find applications for your bank. You could even ask their outside perspective on financial services as it relates to their worldview on sales, service, and experience. Unbiased viewpoints can be very valuable.

When your customers win, your bank wins. The more you know about the next level of success for your customers, the more relevant your bank will be in their lives. Consider these practical ways from your peers to better understand changing dynamics that affect how your customers go about their financial services matters.

© 2015 by Jeff Rendel. All rights reserved.

Jeff Rendel, Certified Speaking Professional, and President of Rising Above Enterprises works with banks that want entrepreneurial results in leadership, sales, and strategy.  Each year, he addresses and facilitates for more than 100 banks and their business partners. www.jeffrendel.com

 

 

 

So Many Shiny Objects, So Little Time

by Jeff Rendel, Certified Speaking Professional

Rendel

Jeff Rendel

If the Shiny Object Syndrome is influencing your bank, executive team, and board, here’s a surefire way to whip it: embrace the Shiny Object Syndrome, but only for a little while.

The late Steve Jobs was known to bring together his top 100 executives for a retreat each year in order to flesh out new and refined ideas for Apple’s future. During one session, he would give his executives an assignment: draw up a list of ten strategic ideas that Apple should be doing next. Jobs would take to the white board and write down all of his executives’ thoughts. After much jockeying and lots of ideas crossed off this list, the group would finalize a list of 10. As Jobs looked over the list, he would insist that Apple could only focus on three.

When asked if he was proud of what Apple chose to do, Jobs would reply in the affirmative, but further emphasize that he was equally, if not more, proud of what Apple chose not to do. Focus was key in the midst of great ideas. Perhaps saying “no” was more accommodating than saying “yes.”

Odds are, it’s near planning season for your bank. With so many ideas for growth, how might your bank gain more strategic clarity? How might your bank keep its focus on its true drivers of growth and success and eliminate the shiny distractions? Consider using this exercise to add some strategic order to the chaos of shiny objects.

First, draw up your list of potential drivers for revenue and growth. List every idea of what your bank should be doing next. Make the list as long as it needs to be; get it out of your system.

Second, score every idea in each of three categories: contribution to revenue, strategic fit, and ease of execution. You can add more categories to concentrate on building even further bank-wide success. Below is an edited example from a mid-sized bank. Its original list contained about 30 very shiny ideas.

rendel_graph

Third, determine which ideas carry a high aggregate score (add the rows) and have little variations among the three scores. This bank discovered that additional branches were key to growth, fit with an expanded community, and utilized a business model that could be replicated. It also discovered that expanding its financial advisory capacity would fit its model and plans for growth. Of most interest, it learned that while a merger may add to the top line, a successful and sustainable execution was more difficult that perceived. For this bank, growth would come via deeper relationships, new branches, and financial services beyond deposits and loans.

In your upcoming executive and board planning sessions, incorporate all the potential ideas (even the distractions disguised in ideas’ clothing) that might work at your bank. Then, focus on eliminating the diversions by determining the ideas that generate significant revenue AND have a tight strategic fit AND are easy to execute. Your 100 ideas will whittle down to a list of 10, eventually becoming a few areas of focus. Your single-mindedness on the simplicity of a few prevailing ideas will help your bank be exceptional in the execution of your strategic intents, assisting you in remaining focused in the midst of many great ideas.

© 2015 by Jeff Rendel. All rights reserved.

Jeff Rendel, Certified Speaking Professional, and President of Rising Above Enterprises works with banks that want entrepreneurial results in leadership, sales, and strategy.  Each year, he addresses and facilitates for more than 100 banks and their business partners. www.jeffrendel.com

Shared Strategic Success

Jeff Rendel

Jeff Rendel

It’s strategic planning season for many banks – a time for fresh ideas about your future. Why not add a new variation to this year’s planning session by combining these considerations into your format and agenda?

Gain a sense of your board’s vision for your bank. Ask your board a straightforward set of questions: “In five years, what can our bank be for our customers? In five years, how would you define strategic success? In five years, what is unique about our bank and business model?” Watch for themes that reveal your board’s aspiration for your bank. Chances are your board’s vision is focused on positioning your bank as Number 1 in the marketplace of your customers’ loyalty.

Focus your planning session on ideas rather than numbers. Leave your strategic updates for your monthly board meetings and work from the vision your board has established. Rather than focusing on a set of financial targets, frame your conversations around concepts that can lead to greater significance in your customers’ lives. If the initiatives you agree upon and create plans to execute lead to a deeper business commitment from your customers, your exceptional financial results will be a product of your brainstorms.

Aim for new ways to grow your top line. For all intents and purposes, the greater part of your bank’s strategies should concentrate on the top line – new customers, new income sources, expanded reach, increased capacities, new products, growing your loan portfolio, and more. With an emphasis on optimizing the benefit your bank can deliver to your customers, your bank is able to increase its base of revenue in this exchange of value. When the customer wins first, your bank wins with new and expanded sources of revenue.

At its simplest, strategy is about where your bank will compete and how you will win. As your executive and governance teams meet to design and plan for your future, ensure your conversations remain dedicated to what your bank can be for its customers and why your customers should choose your bank in the future. In the end, your customers will drive your bank’s success. Create worthwhile strategies to secure their loyalty for your shared successes.

Jeff Rendel, Certified Speaking Professional, and President of Rising Above Enterprises works with financial institutions that want elite results in leadership, sales, and strategy.  Each year, he addresses and facilitates for more than 100 financial institutions and their business partners.