Ah, summer is almost over, it’s getting cooler, kids are back in school, and it’s planning season. Can life get any better? After a long day at work, I like to curl up with a good strategic planning article so I can stay on my toes and provide the latest and greatest to my clients. I was fortunate enough to read an article written by Ron Ashkenas, published in Forbes on four ways to develop a strategic plan. The list was very comprehensive but you know I had to add my .5 cents to the list. Ashkenas tips are as follows:
1) Insist on experiments to rest the assumptions you’ve made.
2) Banish fuzzy language.
3) Escape from template tyranny.
4) Ask provocative questions.
4.5) Set firm deadlines for the completion of your plan (my .5 cents)
That list covers many of the blind spots organizations possess when they enter into the planning process. Many times someone in the group may bring up an idea that’s been discussed before. What’s the usual reaction? “That will NEVER work!” Tip number one is spot on because it’s important to back up your assumptions with facts. The winds of change are extremely strong and just because something didn’t work last year doesn’t automatically dictate the outcome of this year’s efforts.
If you work in healthcare I’ll use quality scores as an example to further highlight my previous point. Let’s say in 2013 you had a bunch of projects in place with the intention to increase your HCAHPS score across the board and let’s say you failed at making hitting your goals. Does that automatically mean you don’t try again this year? Of course not. The goal remains the same, what you need to challenge is the operational portion of your plan problem is contained within your failure to execute. Take the time to experiment new ways to reach your goals and retool older projects to ensure you’re not throwing out the good with the bad.
My addition to the list revolves around setting firm deadlines for the completion of your strategic plan. I can assure you, you’ll never make the “perfect” plan. You need to work very hard to make the best plan possible but at a certain point, shift your attention to the execution of your great ideas. I’ve seen planning seasons extend way past the start of the year and before you know it, it’s time to make a new plan. You’ve spent the time making the plan, make sure you allot the majority of the remaining time actively making your goals a reality.
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