The complexity of the health care environment calls for our organizations to do business in a different way, challenging our ability and flexibility to remain nimble and effectively address internal and external demands; in short, it requires us to change. At the outset of the strategic planning process, it’s important for leaders to have a finger on the pulse of the current organizational culture to understand readiness and willingness for change and anticipate their impact on implementation of a new strategic plan.
Organizational readiness for change can be assessed at two distinct points: at the beginning of the planning cycle and midway through the process. To assess at the outset of the process, focus a team discussion on the following elements:
- Taking action and achieving results
- Communicating, collaborating, and involving others
- Learning, innovating, and embracing change
- Responding to patients and adapting to the external environment
Reviewing your team’s responses to these areas and determining which of these elements are present in your culture or may need to be developed will help identify potential levers and roadblocks to strategic plan execution and allow you to proactively manage these issues.
It’s also constructive to check in midway through the planning process once strategy begins to emerge, in order to gain consensus on the magnitude of change needed within the organization, over what time period, and identify group(s) prone to resistance and strategies to facilitate change. The questions below are a good starting point for the mid-process team discussion.
- How significant is the degree of change likely in your market over the next five years?
- What degree of change is required for your organization to succeed in its strategic plan?
- What individuals/groups are likely to be the most resistant to the required changes?
- How can resistance best be addressed?
A constructive change process requires many of the same characteristics of a successful strategic planning process, including leadership engagement, strong planning and execution, and frequent communication to stakeholders. By implementing these two processes in parallel, you can build a culture of change and change management into the organization – and by doing so, you’ll ultimately improve your organization’s likelihood for success in the future health care environment.
Has your organization gone through a strategic planning process recently, and did you assess readiness for change? How has this impacted your ability to implement your plan?