Beyond SMART – Ensuring Your Projects are Relevant and Sustainable

This blog post is part of the 2016 Next Top Credit Union Executive competition originally posted August 05, 2016.

Conducting the coaching calls with the Top 15 NTCUE applicants has been both a rewarding and an inspiring experience. Each one came to the coaching session with passion, talent, and a forward-looking sense of accomplishment. The purpose of the first coaching call is to support the applicants in expressing his or her project, creating structures for success and sustainability, and connecting deeply felt passions to measurable and observable results for multiple stakeholders. They got this!

Two blended communication rubrics provided a framework for the coaching calls. One is a widely known methodology for goal setting: SMART, and the other, founded in communication theory, is called Mutual Commitment to Success (MCS).

Passion and volition for their projects are foundational. Any project, idea, or innovation requires commitment to the right action to ensure success and sustainability. After all, this competition is all about advancing the next generation of leaders.

SMART was used as a basic framework for transforming a great idea into an observable result. We started with the Specifics of the project: the specific goal and the need it serves or the opportunity it creates.

We discussed how their projects were Measurable, both quantitatively and qualitatively. Thus the coaching calls included a 360-degree view of all the stakeholders and how they each experience increased value because of the efforts of each applicant and his or her project. I heard well thought out plans from each applicant.

The applicants shared how their projects were to be Achieved, including the resources required and the order in which their priorities would need to be carried out to achieve success.

We brainstormed the layers of Relevance, and each applicant easily related his or her project’s relevance in the context of the credit union, its membership, and the community.

The rubber hits the road with the action steps in the three Time frames: what has already been achieved, what’s going on now with the project, and what the future road map looks like for the deliverables. Each applicant expressed clarity on the timeline and acknowledged potential bumps in the road. Regardless of the challenges or obstacles, the Top 15 remain steadfast in their passion and commitment to intentional action.

Lastly, the applicants explored the sustainability and replicability of their projects. That is, does the need for the project transcend time? Can other organizations easily adopt and adapt the project for their needs? What resources are needed over the various project phases, and what investments do they require? Is the project an offering outside of the credit union industry? Does the investment warrant the result?

The MCS Commitment to Action Model, uniquely offered by the DDJ Myers Leadership Institute, was also used in the coaching call. Basically observing the leadership presence of each applicant and his or her capacity, competency, reliability, and sincerity to be the Next Top Credit Union Executive who will represent the thousands of people in their generation of leadership in credit unions. Each one has a strong sense of self, a uniquely positioned offering, and a competitive edge that will make it difficult for all of you to select the Final 5!

Over the next three weeks, read their new blogs and view their videos and feel proud of these applicants. Your imagination and creative juices will flow just like mine! Each applicant has a lot to share with and offer to this world!

Deedee Myers,
Ph.D., MSC, PCC