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Setting the Right Goals

After carefully and thoughtfully selecting your organization’s critical planning issues (CPIs), the next step in your planning process is to move directly into goal setting.  Goals will serve as the general ends toward which future efforts are directed for a particular CPI.  In other words, all of the actions that take place under the umbrella of that CPI will be to achieve the goal that has been set.  The goal, therefore, must be a broad, overarching aspiration that the organization is trying to achieve.  Each CPI should have one or two goals; focusing on a clear goal, rather than a broad collection of goals, will allow for more focused, detailed objectives in the action planning phase.
Anatomy of a Goal
What should a goal look like? Goals should adhere to the SMART criteria as often as possible:

  • Specific: What is the major item to accomplish? This should be explicitly stated.
  • Measurable: How will we know the goal has been accomplished? It should be quantifiable to the maximum extent possible.
  • Attainable:  The goal should be realistic for the organization to achieve, while still being aspirational.
  • Relevant:  The goal should matter, and should achieve whatever is central to the core of the CPI.
  • Timely:  The goal should set a timeframe in which it will be accomplished. In most cases, this is three to five years.


Examples of Five-year Goals

  • Efficiency of Care: Our organization is at or below the median cost per person served (inpatient discharge, outpatient visit, etc.) in the state.
  • Population Health: Our service area residents are recognized as the healthiest in the state, and one of the healthiest populations in the country.
  • Patient Experience: Our organization is clearly distinguished for its patient- and family-centered care culture and ensures excellence during every patient experience.

Do you or your planning team have any additional keys to success or “rules of thumb” when developing strategic goals?