Measurable Results From Strategic Planning
Most people have been engaged in some sort of strategic planning in their organization, whether it is brainstorming a new initiative or formally outlining an organizational plan, but critics, particularly internal critics, often question the value of the process.
Three Examples of Measurable Results
Within the first year of performing a comprehensive organizational assessment and planning, a specialty provider organization experienced a doubling of its priority service line, a 25 percent increase in upfront patient responsibility revenue collections and a 30 percent decrease in bad debt.
Similarly, a nonprofit organization conducted strategic planning with its board and staff that transitioned an ineffective, unengaged board into a refreshed, high-performing one. The organization ended two programs that had poor outcomes and poor financial performance and transferred the resources into new programs that a market study indicated were unmet community needs and areas in which funders were willing to invest.
Recently, a family-owned company went through a leadership transition to other family members. The organization had not undergone formal strategic planning for many years, if ever. They knew their revenue was very stagnant and had ideas of what they could do to improve — from manufacturing process changes to introducing new products — but did not know how to get started with a strategic planning process. Now underway, they have captured their competitive landscape, identified market opportunities and state-of-the-art manufacturing processes, as well as the necessary skillsets for current products and services and future enhanced products. These are being organized and made into a plan.
Lessons to Learn
Organizations of all stages, types and industries – from startup to multigenerational, from privately owned to public sector and not-for-profit, from manufacturers and banks to school districts and health systems – can approach strategic planning with a fresh mindset by following these ground rules.
Transitions bring in fresh thinking, new skillsets and different approaches to leadership. Once a transition is complete and a new plan in place, each person in the organization needs to identify their role. With performance management as an important goal of strategic planning, it is critical to cascade the plan to every person and role in the organization to allow individuals to effectively understand their roles in the strategy. Job descriptions and performance reviews that are in line with the organization’s strategy will lead to successful work and outcomes.
Many times, strategic plans remain at the top of an organization with executives and upper management. That prevents people throughout the organization from gaining buy in and feeling involved, and it also misses out on a lot of creative thinking.
One of the values of Lean Six Sigma methodology is to get the people who are in the process to design the new process because they know what is wrong with the old one. Similarly with strategic planning, if an organization can identify creative ways to engage people at all levels, management will receive new insightful feedback and critical buy-in.
This can be as simple as developing a strategic survey for key individuals throughout the organization to complete. Taking it a step further, an organization can choose some of its high-performing up and comers for a focus group to discuss a couple of the issues they’ve been exploring in their strategic planning. That might be a market or financial analysis, demographics of customers, discussions of competition or what they want in their pipeline of R&D.
Companies that are more entrepreneurial give people licenses to be creative and think of new products and services.