Given today's hostile competitive environment, the incessantly changing nature of technology and the volatile state of the economy, it's no wonder credit union boards and management askance at notions of "strategic planning" and "shaping one's own destiny." To make the strategic planning process more manageable and effective, Michael Neill, CSE, president of Atlanta-based Michael Neill & Associates, a CUES strategic partner suggests first identifying an attribute on which the credit union can dominate over its competition. Neill says alignment involves examining the entire organization -- IT, marketing, front-line staff, support (backroom) operations, leadership vision and much more. The most important step in the planning process is to frame the purpose of the planning session, asserts George Hofheimer, CAE, chief research officer at Filene Research Institute. Hofheimer says that when credit unions hold strategic planning sessions, one goal to consider is innovating.