UNFCU: The Power of Internal Alignment

“Communication is one of the most overlooked aspects of strategy, yet it is critical to manage change, create buy-in, and drive the momentum needed for strategy execution. At UNFCU, we recognize that successful strategic communications plans win the hearts and minds of employees and help ensure that we remain committed to our strategy while achieving success together .”

By communicating across a broad array of channels and being mindful of perspectives and opinions, UNFCU was able to get everyone on board.

The starting point

How does the United Nations Federal Credit Union (UNFCU), an international financial institution that serves over 125,000 members throughout the global UN community, ensure organizational alignment to reach its strategic goals? It starts with communication and culture, which have also proven solid bellwethers along the way.

In 2013, UNFCU introduced a formalized strategic planning process, which led to the development of a new strategy and the creation of the UNFCU Office of Strategic Planning.

“UNFCU’s management team believes that strategy needs to take place 365 days a year,” said Rossana Creo, AVP, Strategic Planning. By communicating across a broad array of channels and being mindful of perspectives and opinions, UNFCU was able to get everyone on board.

Finding a framework

Creo began working with a consultant and teams throughout the organization to ensure alignment between UNFCU’s strategy and the business system, including measures and rewards, structure and processes, people, and culture. After several months of continuous evaluation, teams led by the Office of Strategic Planning identified objectives and measures to benchmark the success of their respective initiatives and their impact on UNFCU’s long-term strategic priorities. These were captured in the UNFCU Balanced Scorecard that gave UNFCU a new framework for organizational alignment.

Communication is key

Given a new strategic planning process, a new strategic plan, and the introduction of the Balanced Scorecard, UNFCU moved ahead to obtain organizational-wide support to not only promote the benefit of these change management initiatives, but also accomplish these goals in a short period of time, while gaining staff champions along the way.  Knowing this, UNFCU’s leadership team led the way through continued participation, support and sponsorship. To take alignment even further, UNFCU tied its Balanced Scorecard to its corporate incentive plan.  In this way, strategy and performance management became an integral and essential component of the entire organization, which soon embraced the new approach.

UNFCU effectively communicated its strategic plan and Balanced Scorecard to all staff using videos, progress reports, brochures, posters, and its internal corporate social network.  Key stakeholders were also provided discussion guides so that they could continue the communications.  The Strategy Team also distributed journals to every employee that included a printed copy of the UNFCU corporate strategy map on the inside the cover.  And, when it came time to celebrate the roll-out of the Balanced Scorecard, the strategy map even appeared on a cake.

These integrated efforts led to strategy being widely recognized as part of UNFCU’s culture. As Creo will tell you, “communication is the most overlooked aspect of strategy,” and it is “critical for buy-in and change management.”

Managing success

Recognizing the need to have the right tool to manage the plan they had implemented, UNFCU developed a platform to leverage a customized Balanced Scorecard framework.  After evaluating options, UNFCU chose ClearPoint Strategy to be that resource.

Today, UNFCU manages strategy based on 13 Balanced Scorecards that they track in ClearPoint – one at the corporate level, eight for their business units, and four for senior executives.  Following a strict reporting calendar, UNFCU thoroughly documents the reporting process to ensure monthly data evaluation that is summarized on a dedicated Intranet page, effectively utilizing Clearpoint’s Community Dashboard.

Managers also use the tool to conduct quarterly strategy review meetings. Internal users of the tool reported quick and easy data entry, analysis, and the ability to generate reports. Staff can also check ongoing corporate strategy progress via a display strategy map and a link to key incentive measures via UNFCU’s Intranet page.

Creo has long maintained, “Strategy is something that’s continually done.” Having the right framework, a strong strategic communications plan, and a robust strategy management platform have enabled UNFCU to take its strategy-focused organization to the next level. Moreover, everyone has a stake in the outcome and is contributing to a core UNFCU value – achieving success together.


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