In Part 1 of our three-part series, you’ve designed and documented your practice vision. Now, you’re ready to put together a tactical plan.
Schedule a day-long kick-off meeting retreat-style, in an off-site location, where you and your staff can disengage from the day-to-day hubbub of the office. A nearby hotel or conference center space should do the trick and your employees should be encouraged to feel comfortable in casual attire.
If in the budget, it’s useful to invest the $1K+ in an experienced facilitator who can plan and manage the agenda, facilitate and mediate discussion and help establish a level playing field for all participants.
For the best outcomes, hierarchical lines should be left at the door and everyone should be encouraged to provide input, regardless of their seniority or whether their comments are positive or negative.
Kick off the meeting yourself by talking about the practice in general and providing a brief overview of its financial, operational and staffing status. This is particularly useful for practices in which certain team participants don’t normally have access to this type of valuable information.
You or your facilitator should also provide a recap of what the group is trying to accomplish for the day, why it is important to have a strategic plan and how everyone can participate in the process.
Establishing Who You Are
You will first want to spend some time framing the practice, talking about your mission statement, vision and core values.
If you don’t have a mission statement, you want to develop one — a simple and short summation of who you are, what you do and how you do it, often including elements borrowed from the practice’s values statement.
Here are some sample medical practice mission statements to guide you.
Along with the mission statement comes the practice’s vision statement. The vision statement incorporates what the organization would like to achieve over the next three-to-five-year period, presenting a future outlook for the practice. Again, some examples:
You will also spend time discussing the practice’s core values. How will you treat patients and employees? What will be the hallmark of care within your practice?
Typical elements of a medical practice core values statement may include: quality, respect, integrity, professionalism, collaboration, etc. Through mediated discussion, you can find the ideal combination of factors that form your business’s brand and influences everything you do.
Perform a SWOT Analysis
The meat of your session will be an “all-hands-on-deck” SWOT exercise, a frank analysis of your current business through an assessment of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
Allot 20-30 minutes for your team to write down as many strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats as possible — one per sticky note — and then stick them onto one of four large sheets of paper posted around the room, one for each category.
Once this step has been completed, the facilitator will work with the team to aggregate similar ideas into groups and label them according to their presiding theme. To cite a simple example, strengths like “dedicated staff,” “experience of staff” and “helpfulness of staff” can be grouped into a category titled “staff excellence.” As you continue this process, you will build a list of strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities that incorporates input from the entire team.
Develop a Workable Plan
The next step is to prioritize the group’s findings by assigned a rank of 1, 2, or 3 for each topic, with those areas receiving a “1” requiring immediate attention.
By determining which areas are most critical to your practice, you can plan out a preliminary roadmap of what your strategic plan will look like.
A good facilitator will be instrumental in summarizing the SWOT findings and helping the team drill down to the most critical items.
Ultimately, you will find three or four common themes, which will suggest where the practice needs to focus to maximize growth and opportunities. These focus areas will become the key objectives of the strategic plan.
Once you have defined your short- and medium-term objectives, the work of breaking down each objective into projects that can be assigned and evaluated is usually conducted in the days following the retreat. It is important to keep the process moving to maintain your momentum and quickly assign individuals the work that needs to get done to accomplish each objective. A follow-up meeting to discuss the implementation of the new objectives should be scheduled within a few weeks following the retreat.
To be most effective, more in-depth follow-up should be conducted periodically to ensure that the practice’s mission statement, vision statement, strategic plan, and other documents are still relevant; most likely, they will need regular updating.
We will discuss this process in Part 3 of this series — so dig in and get your first planning session underway.