Wisdom and Value in Strategic Planning

By Dave Branding, PhD

One of my absolute favorite days of the work year calendar is strategic planning. I look forward to this special opportunity when key leaders come together and focus. We scan the environment, assess our positions, incorporate input, determine goals and set priorities for how we intend to perform the important work together in alignment.

Of course, strategic planning is less a day and more an ongoing, evolving process that often includes an identifiable day when teams actively plan together. From my position as a CEO, the value is having key leaders and governing bodies hear the same information and build consensus regarding the way forward.

Imagine YOUR key stakeholders forecasting, projecting and designing elements of a future together. It’s a joy to have teams listen intently, brainstorm and contribute insights in a safe, positive setting. The goal is to find a collective, coherent way forward despite operating in risk-bearing, fiscally challenging and often ambiguous environments. How empowering!

The strategic plan, when thoughtfully developed, might be the single greatest gift that boards and leadership teams can give each other and ultimately to the community served.

Providing a concise framework for strategic planning, accreditation standards emphasize what should be considered in the ongoing planning process, how the plan itself is to be developed, what it must include and how it is maintained and shared with others.

In my experience as a CARF surveyor, one frequently missed standard is ensuring that the plan reflects financial positioning at the time it’s drafted and at projected points in the future.

Organizations achieve substantial conformance by paying attention to detail in documentation and using the actual standards as an outline for the content generated by the process, which informs the resulting written plan.

The Planning Process

In our organization, planning practices have evolved over many years and are constantly being refined.  Rough outlines guiding the planning process, collected formally and informally, are written on large paper pages displayed around the room for reference by everyone.

For our first step, the leadership team and governing board meet together and we facilitate the meeting ourselves. Other organizations find it helpful to use an external facilitator.

We update everyone on the status of the existing plan, acknowledging those items that are completed , note others that are still in process and jettison the ones that will not be pursued.  We use a large electronic screen to update a simple SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis and spend most of the time brainstorming priority areas for our efforts, which are recorded on large sheets of paper.

Further discussion, reorganization and prioritization helps us solidify the plan’s rough content. In the following days, we draft a brief, concise document that is shared with the leadership team and governance board for input and revisions.

Successful Implementation

Last year, we then shared our draft goals and objectives with all 60 staff members throughout our organization and used a nominal voting process to solicit everyone’s input and document priorities.

We listed strategic opportunities on large post-it sheets around the room and everyone voted by placing stickers next to the issues they thought to be most important.  This input also factored strongly into the development of our final written plan.

Ultimately, the governing board approves the strategic plan’s final draft, which is implemented with at least twice-annual updates that are submitted to the board. This year, we are trying a Gantt chart format to more clearly specify when each element of the plan initiates and concludes.

We also seek input and feedback to strengthen our planning process for the coming year by sharing elements of the plan at key community stakeholders meetings, distributing reports to all staff members and holding regular meetings with the people we serve – tailoring content to each audience, as appropriate. Other organizations use their website to share strategic directions with a broader audience.

There is strong wisdom and incredible value in the alignment of people, ideas, resources and purposeful work that’s specified in a well-developed strategic plan, which helps us implement continuous, organization-wide quality improvement and sustainability more than any other initiative or directive.

Accreditation Guru can help you and your colleagues achieve a strategic planning process that meets your needs while conforming to accreditation standards that help your organization Prepare for Greatness

Dave is CEO at JAMHI Health & Wellness in Juneau, Alaska, a CARF surveyor and a consultant with Accreditation Guru.

For assistance with your strategic planning, please contact us at 212.209.0240 or email Rocio@AccreditationGuru.com.


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