INSPIRING OUR MISSION WHILE IMPROVING OUR MARGINS:
Whether a for-profit or not-for-profit organization, sustainable financial capital and a clear strategic plan are both essential and limiting factors in the successful execution of any mission. However, one might reasonably argue that healthcare executives, who are typically responsible for monitoring, managing and reporting on the health of the business, are not the primary drivers of said financial condition or market position.
Instead, savvy hospital executives are turning to physician and nursing leadership to champion financial stewardship and the business of healthcare. Identifying noble proponents of our mission and effectively engaging, educating and empowering those leaders to improve the utilization of resources and firm performance can yield a win-win.
As clinicians, we strive to provide safe, high-quality, patient-centered care. When we understand how proposed turnaround solutions can lead to better outcomes and improved value for our patients, we are able to better invest ourselves in innovating and implementing these solutions.
Although this process requires commitment to data-driven decision-making (e.g., balanced score cards, relevant financial reports), the results are most impactful when the stewards selected not only have an appreciation for business analytics but also possess the capabilities necessary to lead people and manage change.
Thought leaders in the discipline of Management offer support for this approach in John Kotter’s 8-Step Process for Leading Change, a well-known methodology for executing strategies and transformative change. Specifically, step two of the process requires building a guiding coalition – a diverse, voluntary team of creative and influential people to provide direction and coordination of efforts.
Members of the guiding coalition ideally exemplify one or more of the following characteristics:
- Collaborative – team player, interfaces with all levels of the organization
- Mission-Centric – they believe in, and are motivated by, the company’s mission
- Player Coach – provide effective peer to peer leadership
- Purveyor of the “means-end chain” – engaging team members in a thoughtful and purposeful way with the skill to authentically connect their contributions (“the means”) to the accomplishment of company goals (“the end”)
Enrolling physician and nurse leaders with this skillset to participate in financial and strategic planning, provides an opportunity to leverage the power of organizational culture. People are inspired by and more likely to mobilize for those they trust and with whom they have common values and beliefs. Do not underestimate the influence these mission-oriented champions wield, they are the key to connecting the art of healing with the much-needed understanding and respect for the business-side of the equation.
Once your team has been engaged, the process begins and should incorporate relevant training and coaching on analyzing, strategizing and improving financial performance during the group’s meetings.
The fundamental process for strategic planning includes the following:
- Analysis & Assessment (SWOT, PEST, Porter’s Five Forces, etc.)
- Plan Formulation & Documentation (Actionable & Measurable)
- Execution (Communicate & Operationalize)
- Evaluation (Measuring Success)
- Sustainment (Refining & Managing)
Keep in mind that clinicians are often tasked with balancing their focus on patient-centered work with all other activities. Therefore, employing empathy throughout this process and ensuring thoughtful execution of these assemblies will go a long way in the success of these teams.
In summation, strategic capabilities for mission-driven organizations should include empowering and positioning leaders with a true calling to serve and the ability to effectively lead change. This approach can also pay dividends as we look beyond strategic planning and implementation to sustaining the gains of successfully executed strategy. Our experience which validates the roadmap for executing, evaluating and sustaining such gains is dependent on an organization’s readiness for the rigorous process. Prior to initiating the core stages of the process, best practice strategic plans devote time and resources to critically examine the existing organizational systems and structure in order to identify potential gaps affecting deployment, alignment and management of the plan. Considering the exhaustive amounts of financial and human capital allocated to this transformative journey, it would behoove us to ensure a readiness assessment is conducted on the frontend, as effective strategy begins with the end in mind.
Indira S. Rollins, BSN, RN, CNOR, CPHQ
SRM Consults, LLC
Population Health/Care Coordination
Executive MBA, Class of 2017
Crummer Graduate School of Business