6 Biggest Reasons Hospital Strategy Will Fail

TeamAt the Becker's Hospital Review Annual Meeting in Chicago on May 10, 2013, Founder and CEO of AchieveIT Scott Regan gave a presentation titled "The 6 Biggest Reasons Your Strategy Will Fail."

1. Mission and vision are AWOL.
The biggest reason why hospital strategies fail is because they don't have an appropriate — or any — mission and vision. The mission statement shouldn't be something that is a statement of fact, such as "To be an integrated health delivery system providing great care to our community." Your mission should be linked to the vision of where you want to go in the future.

"Vision statements have to be powerful stuff," said Mr. Regan. "If your vision is weak, your plan will be weak. Your mission also has to be stable. If I can take your mission and vision statement and mix it around with others and then hand it back to you and you don't know if it's yours, we have a problem. Be able to repeat it. Once your vision has been reached, you have to make a new one."

2. Form filling in place of analysis.
Measuring progress and success toward a mission and vision is important. Make sure you think about how measurement will take place as you form your mission and vision. A great place to start is by answering these two questions: How much? And by when?

"Unless you know the answers to these questions, you can't improve anything," said Mr. Regan. "Answer the questions and then you can build a plan to achieve your objective. Create success measures first and then make the plan. If you can't put your plan in a visual dashboard that tells you where you are, the plan isn't very strong. Everyone should be able to visually see how you are performing and whether you are headed in the right direction. Hold people accountable to measure the plan."

3. Leadership.
By the time most people reach the C-suite, they think they know strategy and execution, but very few are trained on good strategic planning. Oftentimes, members of the C-suite are very like-minded and don't bring in people who are on the front lines of delivering healthcare.

"The closer you can get to the front line, the better the strategy will be," said Mr. Regan. "Expand who is involved in strategy work. Good strategy doesn't happen in the C-suite; it's those who are on the front lines that understand their capabilities and restraints. Senior leadership should set goals and middle management should be responsible for creating the action plan. If you want to create buy-in, they need a say in the action plan. When senior leaders force feed, failure rate goes up dramatically."

4. Lack of focus.
Reduce the number of major objectives to a managed number so you can really meet your goals. While there are several opportunities to make the hospital better, zero in on five main objectives and when one is complete focus on another.

"The bigger your plan is, the less likely you are to succeed," said Mr. Regan. "Tackle five major things, which is a manageable number, and we can really move the dial on our success rate."

5. Misguided follow-through.
Assign different responsibilities and hold people accountable. Make sure everyone knows their specific responsibility, and each responsibility is tasked only to one person. "The more people who are responsible for executing the plan, the higher chance there is for failure," said Mr. Regan. "Just assign things to one person and if it doesn't work, re-tool the plan."

6. Communications.
Many leaders go through the planning process and decide they are ready to make a strategic change without telling anyone in their organization what their plans are. Hospitals may be protective of their information since nurse or physicians may work in multiple hospitals, but if they don't know the plan they can't executive it.

"You have to communicate your plan and dashboards so people know what they are responsible for and how they will be bonused for meeting their goals," said Mr. Regan. "Align individual performance plans with incentives. Do not keep strategic plans a secret; the only way you can execute better is if you know what the plan is."

More Articles on Hospital Leadership and Strategy:

4 Perspectives on Physician Alignment
5 Best Principles for Physician Engagement at Hospitals
To Go it Alone: Should Hospitals Strive to Remain Independent?

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