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Dealing with Non-Strategic Issues Identified in the Strategic Planning Process

Consider this common position of a strategic planning leader: During the course of the interview process for a strategic plan, a key physician leader notes his discontent with current OR operations, specifically turnaround time; He wants to know how this issue will be improved as a result of the planning process. What is the best response?

A robust strategic planning process will have a clearly delineated procedure for issues and feedback received, those that are strategic and non-strategic in nature. The key aspects of these types of issues are summarized below:

Strategic issues are:

  • Central to achievement of an organization’s vision
  • High-impact areas
  • Issues that cannot be addressed easily or resolved in the near-term


Non-strategic issues are:

  • Specific and/or isolated in one area or department (e.g., specific operational issues)
  • Easily resolved or addressed in the near-term


Issues that are strategic in nature will be identified and incorporated into the planning process in the form of goals and initiatives. However, many valid non-strategic issues will also arise, and should be addressed in a parallel operations process, described below:

  1. Non-strategic issues identified from interviews, data analyses, and other planning processes are compiled by the strategy team and sorted into service lines/business units
  2. Leaders of these areas are notified and planning begins at the operations level to assess further and/or address the issues identified
  3. Regular check-ins are scheduled between operations and planning teams to communicate progress on this issues, discuss barriers identified, mitigation strategies, and/or course correction taken, if necessary
  4. Follow-up communication is completed with original issue identifier (e.g., OR physician) on progress and/or issue resolution status


This simple process will easily and effectively allow resolution of the many operational issues identified in a strategic planning process. These short-term quick wins for business units are a way to achieve buy-in and momentum for other changes expected over the course of the planning horizon.