Is it time to develop Mission, Vision, and Values for your practice? Do you need a strategic plan? Do you just need some brainstorming and strategy time with all of our physicians? Below are some ideas to kick start your strategic planning.

Gather and review

Who does the group look up to?  Who does the practice want to emulate (even outside of healthcare)? Pull mission, vision, values for these organizations to use as examples. If the practice has a business plan or budget for the practice, it would be helpful to see it, even if it is old.  Any existing success metrics and financials are helpful as well. Data is our friend. If you have time and willing participants, interview the physicians in the group to find out about past business planning. What worked well? What didn’t? Then, use that feedback to guide your planning process.

For a group session, establish a goal and schedule

If you are doing business planning in a group setting, establish the goals, schedule, and ground rules. Be cognizant of the participant’s time and keep things efficient. A smooth planning session that the physicians see as good use of their time sets you up for great future business planning.

Establish confidentiality and safe space.  What is said in room, stays in room.  All thoughts are welcomed.  Debate issues, not people.  Speak up today.

Use a parking lot for items that come up that need to be addressed later (outside of session or at end if have time).

Consider kicking off with asking each to share what they hope to accomplish in the session? Use this feedback to tweak the planning session.

Mission, Vision, Values

If your group doesn’t have a mission, vision, and values, start here. Pulling examples from organizations you respect or want to emulate can be a great starting place. If already have them, review at the beginning of the session to keep them top of mind.

  • Mission – Who you are/what you do/why you exist/purpose/legacy (should support the vision)
  • Vision – What you aspire to be/do 2 years, 5 years, 10 years (needs to be measurable)
  • Values – What you value, believe in, expected conduct

SWOT Analysis

Depending on the group size and dynamics, decide whether or not to schedule one-on-ones to gather the information to start a SWOT analysis before coming together as a group.  That is our preferred method when we have several weeks to prepare a SWOT. It saves time and helps to give a full voice to each person. The downside is that it can hurt buy-in when the individuals don’t have the benefit of going through the process together.

A SWOT analysis will be a good opportunity to walk through what makes the group great and what makes the group vulnerable.  Here’s a template. For a group session, have a few prepared questions to help get the strategic ideas flowing.  What makes us awesome? Is there a succession plan for key positions?  What do we do if physicians want to cut back to part-time, retire, leave the partnership?  How do we handle their compensation, vacation, and shares? Is the current workload, call burden, income, vacation distribution equitable?  Are there any specialty-specific or facility-specific payor mix concerns? What are we worried about in our competition? And ask for ideas and feedback from participants that are staying quiet. 

Solutions and Strategies

Now, let’s talk about solutions.  How can we turn weaknesses into opportunities? What can we do to protect ourselves against threats?  How can we capitalize on strengths and opportunities? Each strength, weakness, opportunity, and threat will ultimately yield strategies.

If you have a lot of items, start by having the physicians pick the top 5-10 items they want to address first.  Or have them rank all the items within each category and then plan to address 2ish in each. It will become clear through the exercise, which ones are most important. Then

Depending on the number of stakeholders, consider whether it’s best to go into individual solutions and strategies as a big group or break up into smaller groups.  Doing it as a big group will help buy-in, but takes longer and some people may lose interest.  This does risk someone monopolizing the strategies, but hopefully, you can avoid that.  Alternatively, breaking up into smaller groups to come up with key issues, strategies, and tactics can speed things up and help you get more depth quickly.  If you do that, have a healthy mix of more junior and more senior partners in each group, as well as vary the specialties for a multi-specialty clinic.  If you break up into smaller groups, consider using a Tuning Protocol

Now What

Now, decide if your strategies are simply a guide for the future or reading to be turned more formal. Do you need to update policies and procedures based on them?   Ideally, use them to fully build out key issues, strategies, and tactics with timing, responsible party, and success metrics giving the group a business plan. Then, use that plan on an ongoing basis to stay focused and measure success. We used to do 5-year business plans. In the current climate, we recommend 1 and 3-year plans. Your vision may live beyond this, but your tactics should not.