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Organizing Your Strategic Planning Process

Successful strategic planning begins with careful, thoughtful organization. One mistake commonly made in an organization’s strategic planning process is the failure to appropriately organize the process before diving into the work and/or analyses. To avoid this mistake, organizations are encouraged to spend time working through an organizational phase prior to engaging in the actual planning work.


Key activities for health care leaders to prepare for the planning process are outlined below. Clear communication is a critical element in all of these activities and should continue throughout the planning process.


1.       Identify and communicate strategic planning objectives

·         Develop clear and specific strategic planning objectives (and communicating these objectives) from the outset.

2.       Describe and communicate the planning process

·         Prior to initiating strategic planning, organizations must carefully outline the planning process so that it meets the organization’s objectives. Once the planning process is developed it must be communicated effectively to key stakeholders to assist their understanding of the process.

3.       Assert CEO leadership of strategic planning

·         Although other individuals/positions will play important roles in the strategic planning process, the CEO typically leads the process. Outlining and communicating the CEO’s role and responsibilities at the outset of the planning process will help to ensure a smoothly functioning process and successful results.

4.       Define and communicate the roles and responsibilities of other organizational leaders

·         Prior to initiating strategic planning, the roles, responsibilities, and participation level of all key stakeholders (e.g. board members, management staff, physicians, strategic planning committee) must be defined and clearly communicated to all affected constituencies.

5.       Identify the strategic planning facilitator and communicate the selection widely throughout the organization before strategic planning formally commences

6.       Establish and communicate the strategic planning schedule

·         Before planning activities are initiated, organizations should decide on and clearly communicate the overall planning schedule – the duration of the process and how frequently to undergo plan updates.

7.       Assemble relevant historical data

8.       Resolve not to overanalyze historical data

9.       Review past strategies and identify successes and failures

10.   Conduct strategic planning orientation meetings to discuss planning objectives, the planning process and schedules, roles of key stakeholders and participants, etc.

11.   Reinforce future orientation and encourage organizations to adopt a new perspective for the future; Prepare to stimulate new thinking



Employing these organizational tactics will help jumpstart a successful strategic planning process.