We believe diverse, critical thoughts and candid discussions are necessary components of the decision making process. Decisions at Greenleaf Trust are made with these components, especially when it comes to strategic decisions. And since the focal point of our strategic planning process is our Advance, diverse critical thoughts and candid discussions are required.

Our Advance is an annual three-day off-site meeting in October involving our entire Executive Leadership Team. This year we held our Advance in Bay Harbor, Michigan. The purpose is to share and discuss divisional strategic plans for the upcoming year. Divisional plans are scrutinized and challenged by each leader’s peers in an effort to create a cohesive organizational plan. Once an organizational plan is constructed, we build our budget around it. We view strategic planning as a long-term endeavor. However, each year we want to take one step forward towards achievement of our longer term Top of Mind strategic plan. Our Advance helps us do this. And, if you are wondering why we do not call it an executive retreat, it’s because we are not going backwards. We call it an Advance because we are moving forward.

We will roll out the finished organizational strategic plan for 2020 to the entire company in a couple of weeks, so I cannot get into details, but I can provide a sense of our focus next year. Diverse critical thoughts and candid discussions were focused on four key themes that came out of our companywide strategic planning survey — Workplace Culture, Purposeful Growth, Near Term Projects, and Longer Term Initiatives. Talent development, diversity and inclusion, and connectivity were universal topics of discussion around Workplace Culture. Our culture is what differentiates us in the marketplace and multiplies the talent within it. As we grow, how do we continue to nurture it? When it came to Purposeful Growth, we spoke in depth about what our organic growth and inorganic growth looks like. What new Michigan markets are appropriate? Are there new lines of service that our clients desire? Does an opportunistic purchase of an adjacent business make sense? Finally, we have many projects that we are currently working on and just as many initiatives to start working on. All are focused on serving our clients more efficiently and effectively.

All of the improvements we have made to Greenleaf Trust can trace their roots back to our strategic planning process and Advance. We have a long list of desired accomplishments in 2020 and cannot wait to get started.