By Michael L. Stevens, GSBC President

Tackling the question, “What does a wildly successful GSBC look like in 10 years?” was the task for the GSBC Board of Trustees and Alumni Advisory Board when they gathered recently for an intensive strategic planning meeting. The pace of change has been remarkable. Rapidly evolving technology is affecting our daily lives and transforming financial services. We needed a bold approach to strategic planning. Our facilitator, Cassie Solomon with The New Group Consulting, Inc., is a certified futurist. A futurist does not tell you about the future, but enables you to understand the present-day “signals” and to think about what they might mean in the future.   

Searching for the Future 

We tasked a group of 11 alumni in November 2021 to serve as our “Signals Group.” Their task over the past few months was to study technology innovations, the current application in banking, the possibilities in community banking and what it all means for GSBC. The Signals Group followed a “learner-teacher” model, where the members were assigned a topic (like artificial intelligence or chatbots), researched the topic and presented it to the rest of the Signals Group. 

The information they gathered was presented to our strategic planning group in advance as preparatory work. The group also saw four of the presentations from Signals Group members live during the planning session. The purpose of this work was to demonstrate that while some of this technology may not be widely understood, it is being creatively deployed and has just scratched the surface of what is possible. The approach established a mindset of innovation and change as we contemplated the industry and GSBC’s future. The Signals Group’s work had a significant impact on the process, for which I am grateful. 

Like it or Not, Failure is Always Lurking 

Our first small group activity was to envision the outright failure of the school. We also identified the reasons for the failure and the key decisions which hastened the demise. As the new president following a legend, let’s just say it was unsettling how easy it was to develop failure scenarios. The most obvious failure scenario was accelerated industry consolidation making the school unsustainable. Contributing factors could be curriculum not progressing to be relevant for community banks or not contributing to thought leadership to help fuel the continued evolution of community banks. 

Alas, a Brighter Future Awaits!   

Envisioning what a wildly successful GSBC looks like in 10 years is really when everything came together. By understanding our vulnerability and appreciating the amount of change being implemented around us, it really opened our minds to the possibilities; we suddenly become much more open to change and exploring ideas. The planning members did an amazing job of offering ideas and feeding off each other’s energy.   

The boards and staff need time to digest and deliberate the ideas before we are ready to cast a long-term vision. We do know there is much we need to learn about what it means to be a community banker in the future and the needs and desires of adult learners. 

The GSBC Experience 

I am committed to developing a vision consistent with the GSBC Experience and built upon the school’s legacy. We are fortunate to have the engagement and commitment of the GSBC Board of Trustees, Alumni Advisory Board and staff. My hope is to present our vision for the future and the steps we will take to get there during the July session. 

The work community banks do is critical to ensuring strong, vibrant communities that provide opportunity. GSBC is committed to doing its part to create strong community bankers to lead strong community banks. An exciting, impactful future is ours to be created, and we need you to join us in this journey.