Strategic Planning- Preparing for Success – Part 3 of 3

Whats Your PlanLet’s continue our discussion of the “nuts and bolts” of how your medical group can conduct a Strategic Planning Process by focusing on the meeting agenda, other necessary arrangements and pre-retreat communication.


Once the preceding steps have been taken it is time to put together the agenda for the meeting. Your agenda might look like this if you are conducting a day and ½ or 2 day retreat.


  • Meeting Goals and Ground Rules.
  • Decision-Making.
  • Interview Feedback:
    • Internal Analysis – Strengths and Weaknesses.
    • Environmental Analysis – Opportunities and Threats.
  • Mission and Vision Statement.
  • Discuss Key Strategic Issues


  • Discuss Key Strategic Issues, continued.
  • Next Steps in Strategic Planning Process.
  • Summary.

As you can see, there is some introductory work about meeting goals, ground rules, and decisions, feedback from the interviews, and then the work of setting mission, vision and discussion of key strategic issues. We will be walking through each of these steps in future articles.

Other Arrangements

You also need to make some detail arrangements about where the meeting will be held. Our suggestion is that you do not hold the meeting in your offices, for a couple of reasons.

  • If you hold your retreat in your offices, when you take breaks every doctor will run back to their own office and it can take 15 minutes to get everyone back together.
  • Part of a planning effort is to get out of the day-to-day and to be expansive in your thinking. Conducting the retreat at a new location can sometimes help encourage expansive thinking.

We typically recommend a meeting room at a hotel – they are usually set up to host the meetings and can provide meal services. Meeting at the hospital is typically a bad idea as their meeting rooms are not conducive to a group meeting, and they often don’t have weekend food service when meetings are typically held.

Some groups hold their retreats out of town, and use meal times and evening hours to build camaraderie.  While this is can be a good idea, some physicians are resistant to traveling out of town. You will need to determine your group’s willingness to travel.

If you do decide to hold the meeting out of town, we suggest that you do not make it a “family outing.”  If family members attend there are two downsides: (1) it will reduce the amount of camaraderie-building physician-to-physician time; and (2) some of the physicians will be anxious about completing the retreat work as fast as possible to spend time with their family members.

You will also need to make a final decision as to how long you will meet. As noted earlier the length of the meeting depends on two things:

  1. The issues to be covered.
  2. The amount of time the physicians are willing to give to the planning process.If they are only willing to give one day you will need to prioritize your Key Issue list to make sure the most important issues are covered.

You will also need to make sure the meeting room is set up in the way you would like (we typically suggest U-shaped table set up), has flipcharts available to record discussion points and decisions, and that you arrange for any needed handouts.

Communication About the Retreat

The last task in preparing for your retreat involves developing a memo and sending it and the agenda to the participants.The memo package should include a number of items:

  • Describe Strategic Planning and tell why it is important.
  • Discuss the goals of the retreat.
  • Include details of retreat (where, when).
  • Include agenda.
  • Include important background information related to specific issues (cost benefit analysis, etc.).
  • Include articles about the future of healthcare. Underline or highlight the important passages.

Next Up – The Retreat

In our next article we will walk you through the work done at the retreat.


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

Will Latham



Related Posts

Comments are closed.