At the beginning of any type of strategic assessment or planning project, I like to take some time to try to understand the organization’s “strategic disposition”, that is it’s fundamental personality and tendencies when it comes to self evaluation. Then, I like to apply a bit of pressure to see how deeply held and widespread that disposition is in reality.
This is what I mean…
Some organizations view themselves as a provider of last resort, that they are too vital to fail, and that there are very few other options for the community in question.
Some organizations, despite what the financials and key metrics reports have to say, believe they are operating from a consistent and unquestionable position of strength.
Some organizations view competitors as weak and unable to challenge their own deeply held historical position.
Some organizations assume that longstanding referrals patterns won’t easily change and that their volumes are essentially guaranteed for the long-term.
You get the picture. In short, I like to find out what the staff, leaders, managers, and board see when they look in the mirror.
This is important because any proper strategic assessment will include an external environmental scan and a direct request to others on the outside – including patients, families, referrers, policy makers, payers, regulators, funders, and competitors – for feedback.
Whenever I encounter an organization’s self assessment that is not in line with what I hear from others, then there’s a real learning opportunity for everyone.
I’m sure this seems very basic, but I see it happen over and over again: an organization makes critical assumptions about itself that do not stand up to scrutiny. Leaving this discrepancy alone for the strategic planning work can prove challenging and even fatal as the foundational assumptions upon which a plan will be built can be flawed. Best to discover this early on… and the earlier the better.
Case in point: I once worked with one organization that felt strongly that it needed to engage in the consolidation activities taking place in its local industry. Everyone internally who I spoke to felt that this organization would be the acquirer. When I pressure tested that on the outside, everyone I spoke to felt that the organization was ripe to be acquired.
Again, best to close these types of gaps early on in the process.
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