Strategic Planning – Objectives and Strategies

StrategyA vision without a task is but a dream, a task without a vision is drudgery, a vision and a task are the hope of the world.

– From a church in Sussex, England, ca. 1730

In a previous articles we addressed setting group Mission and Vision, and identifying Key Issues that need to be addressed in the planning processes.  These two steps are necessary but not sufficient to move the group forward.  Both Vision and tasks to achieve that Vision are required.

Therefore the next step in the planning process is to work on the “task” part.  This involves setting Objectives, and in turn, establishing Strategies and Action Plans to achieve those Objectives.

Objectives and Strategies

An Objective is  a description of some situation in the future that you would like to see come about, which you can reasonably expect to accomplish, and which is in line with your group’s Mission and Vision.

Strategies are the major decisions, policies and/or action programs employed by the organization to meet its objectives.

Let’s look at an example.

A group we worked with recently agreed that it was their Vision to stay independent, and grow in a certain region to achieve that.

The group recognized that there were a number of other practices providing similar services in the region.

As part of its planning retreat, the group set an objective to attempt to merge or form other relationships with the other groups in the region over the next 3 years.

The group’s strategy was to pursue groups A and B, and then consider the others organizations.

Determining which Objectives to pursue is a complex and challenging process. Quite often medical groups identify many Objectives they would like to pursue and need to prioritize those objectives.  We will discuss prioritization techniques in a later article.

Naturally Objectives should be developed using the “SMART” characteristics:

  • Specific – target a specific area for improvement.
  • Measurable – quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
  • Assignable – specify who will do it.
  • Realistic – state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
  • Time-related – specify when the result(s) can be achieved.

There is much information on the internet about how to establish SMART Objectives.

One point of caution – sometimes when medical groups develop Objectives and Strategies, they get so excited that they plan for every objective to be achieved in the next 3 months!  As you develop Objectives and Strategies, it is key to keep in mind the level of resources (management and physician leaders) that are available to implement these plans.  If there are not enough resources, then the group has only three choices:

  1. Add resources.
  2. Change the Objective/Strategy
  3. Take more time to implement.

Remember – “nothing is impossible for the person who doesn’t have to do it.”  Set realistic Objectives and Strategies.

Action Plans

Once you have developed Goals, Objectives and Strategies, you need to map your specific Action Plans to achieve them.  Actions Plans should address:

  • What will be done?
  • Who will do it?
  • What will the costs be?
  • What will the benefits be?
  • When will it be completed?

How To Develop a Strategic Plan

In the past several articles we have discussed what the strategic planning process is all about and the key steps involved.

In our next article we will begin discussing how medical groups can effectively conduct a strategic planning process.


Please contact me if you’d like to discuss this post.

Will Latham

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