- Posted Tuesday August 2, 2022
Part of every practice manager’s ‘journey’ seems to be learning who we are and how we fit into the bigger picture around us—family, friends, community, society, and work. Like any journey, you need to know where you are going to understand what and why you do the things that get you there.
This is one of the elements of mindfulness practice that gets missed a lot of the time, but when you think about it, everything you do is for a reason—you don’t go to your front door unless somebody was knocking on it, just like you wouldn’t get on a bus unless it was going in the direction you wanted to go.
For individuals, strategic planning is the ability to think through ways to achieve your desired outcomes. Just as strategic planning helps your practice realise its goals for the future, it can help you to grow and achieve your goals in a desired direction. For the same reason, you need to know where your business (and life) is going to be sure you are going in the right direction.
Strategy Gives You Clarity
For any business, a good strategy provides clarity—effective strategic planning consists of coming up with the steps we need to take today in order to get where we want to be tomorrow.
Many struggle with defining what that strategy is and getting the drive or momentum to do it. Ignoring or not bothering with a strategy leaves you, your practice and its culture looking for answers—what are we doing now, why are we doing it, and what can we do to progress?
‘Strategic management' refers to the management process that will set out your plans, priorities, milestones and decisions so you can reach a designated position in the future. That could include anything from an increase in patient numbers, bigger profit margins, bigger premises, or increase in staff. It also applies to you as a person—you could be moving to a new house, learn a new skill, or saving enough for a holiday next year.
A Strategic Plan is not a Project Plan
A strategic plan is a company-wide, long-term plan of where you want to be and what you will do to accomplish that. A project plan outlines how you’re going to accomplish a specific project. This project could be one of a series of projects that contribute to a specific objective which, in turn, is one of many objectives that contribute to your strategic plan.
SMART goals aside, you need to know what you want to improve, why it needs to improve, how you’re going to do it and how long you’ve got to get it done. It gives you a purpose, a direction, and a plan to work from that you can then use as a guide. Likewise, your practice staff needs to know what they are working towards, why they need to know about PCNs and ICS, and whether or not it means they’ll still have a job.
A Business and Personal Strategy are Essentially the Same
At the basic elemental stage of a strategy for you or your practice, they each have essentially the same steps:
- Where are you now?
- Where do you want to be?
- What do you need to do to get there?
- When should you start?
- How do you get back on track if things go wrong?
Or, if you want a more "businessy" way of looking at it:
- Determine your current position
- Identify your goals for the future
- Develop your plan
- Put your plan into action
- Revisit as necessary
Where You Are Now / Determine Your Current Position
Go through a realistic analysis of what is happening in your life, and what you want to change. Think of the reasons why you want to change before you start thinking about how you will do it. Be honest with yourself about where you are and where you want to be. Aren’t you sick of it? When you learn to say “No More”, you can start to make a change.
Where You Want to Be / Identify Goals for the Future
Think about the Results, Purpose, and Actions you want:
- What Result am I committed to achieving?
- Why do I want it? What is my Purpose?
- What specific Action MUST I take to make this happen?
What You Need to Do to Get There / Develop Your Plan
Once you’ve identified where you want to be, you need to plan how you’ll get there.
This is where the management books will tell you to pull out your SWOT analysis, and to be fair, it’s a good move—what are your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats? Is it the terms of the new GP Contract? The practice finances? Price of a gym membership?
Yes, a SWOT can apply to work or play—what are your own strengths and weaknesses? How will you get over them? What will be the measures and milestones to tell you that you’re on the right track?
When You Should Start / Put Your Plan into Action
It's time to execute your strategy after all that preparation. Turn your strategy into a concrete plan by mapping your processes.
But more than this, it’s about the belief—by identifying your goals, you need to have a belief in making it happen. A belief is a feeling of absolute certainty about what something means to you; “what do I have to believe to feel this way?” When you realise this, you start to say “I can do something about this—this isn’t how it’s supposed to be”.
Getting Back on Track / Revisit Your Plan When Necessary
Pushing through a new clinical system in less than a week didn’t go to plan during a pandemic—how about now? Likewise, maybe going to the gym 5 times a week was a bit ambitious—what about twice?
- How are you monitoring your plan?
- How do you measure your progress?
Your strategy isn’t set in stone—things change, people come and go, and sometimes life just happens.
Even if you update your strategy regularly, be mindful that it won't last forever. An effective strategic plan develops with the long-term objectives of your business. It could be appropriate to make a new one if you've accomplished the majority of your strategic objectives or if your strategy has changed considerably since you initially established your plan.
Are you inspired to develop your practice leadership role? What improvements do you think you could make in your workplace? Could you benefit from a professional Consultancy Service or ILM-accredited course delivered by award-winning primary care training providers Thornfields?