The biggest issue with strategic plans is that after organizations devise a vision for the future, there is no plan to reach the future state. While these strategies are potential catalysts for growth that could benefit both the hospitals and the communities they serve, organizations need an operational process for execution. The reasons for lack of implementation vary, but one message is clear: Meaningful change occurs only when strategy is converted into action, guided by clearly defined processes that turn vision into reality. Vizient can help your organization translate the potential growth opportunities generated from strategy planning into a cohesive operating plan based on smart, sustained growth. Facing strategic frustrations.
Traditionally, many strategic plans were developed using a laundry list of ideas and needs—revised as needed based on either accomplishments or setbacks. This approach often generates frustration both in focus and in action when an overly ambitious list is paired with a realistic appraisal of resources needed for implementation. This frustration only grows when evidence of little or no progress toward strategic objectives is evaluated against a faster pace of change shown by competitors or in the overall health care marketplace. It’s also not uncommon for strategic initiatives to take a back seat to the whirlwind of demands surrounding the daily business of running a hospital. Given resource constraints, keeping hospitals open and patients safe understandably takes priority over executing the elements of a strategic plan.
A strategic plan with stated goals is just a beginning and must be accompanied by a complete assessment of what it will take from people, process and technology to achieve the objectives. Getting the plan to the finish line.
The reality is that developing a strategic plan—and then seeing it through to full implementation as an operating plan—requires a host of skill sets, tools and management expertise. Many organizations simply don’t have the bandwidth or resources necessary to fully integrate their strategy and implement it in ways that take their plans to the finish line.
Lean principles applied to strategic planning leadership eliminate waste act as a system that focuses on:
- People, process and technology
- Data gathering and fact-based assessment
- Testing the strategy with all stakeholders
- Iterative improvement and organizational
Along the way, first-hand observations, data-gathering and current process documentation help identify barriers in the existing landscape to achieving the targets. A core tenet of Lean management will guide all efforts: achieving new goals through more efficient use of existing resources whenever possible. Executing on people, process and technology Core elements to any system’s strategic evolution are people, processes and technology. Intertwined with these three areas is the critical importance of keeping the organization’s strategic vision front and center through ongoing communication with your employees
Core elements to any system’s strategic evolution are people, processes and technology. Intertwined with these three areas is the critical importance of keeping the organization’s strategic vision front and center through ongoing communication with your employees.
- People are a critical first step. People’s perspective of implementation is strengthened through ongoing 15- to 30-minute face-to-face meetings for all involved in strategy deployment. Discussions involve getting input on progress made to date, informing all participants as events unfold and offering opportunities to contribute to process design—all aided by visual information systems. Actively involving front-line staff in various aspects of implementation is an essential part of gaining buy-in and creating a culture change that sustains success.
- Process change helps identify non-value-added activities to eliminate waste in the existing way of doing things. For new services where processes aren’t yet in place, a cross-functional team representing all key stakeholders (ideally including patients) is formed. It’s about evaluating the entire care delivery process, including how other procedures, such as applying bandages and dressings, obtaining supplies and administering medication, contribute to better care protocols.
- Technology, the final core element in implementing effective strategies, should be viewed as an enabler of good processes and not the end solution for care delivery problems. Technology selection is based on finding a solution that best serves caregivers and patients—and not solely based on the software features or the desire to standardize information technology across an organization. Rather than picking a technology and forcing people and processes to accommodate it, it’s more effective to first focus on the best practices and processes required to do the work, then choose technology that best supports those procedures.
As former President Dwight Eisenhower once said, “A strategic plan is nothing but a dead letter. It comes to life only through discussion and negotiation.” By drawing on extensive experience in process change and strategy implementation, there is an in-depth understanding of the organization and strategic vision through the application of Lean tools and principles—a blend of project management systems and expertise, process improvement skills, and organizational learning and development consulting. The initial strategic vision is translated into a viable, long-term solution—all based on knowing it’s the right business choice supported by the right resources to make it successful.