Strategic Planning – Set Mission and Vision

Strategic planning includes 6 major steps:

  1. Developing Mission and Vision statements for the group.
  2. Identifying internal Strengths and Weaknesses and external Opportunities and Threats.
  3. Discussing Key Issues.
  4. Developing Objectives.
  5. Developing Strategies to achieve those Objectives.
  6. Creating Action Plans to implement those Strategies.

In this article, we focus on Mission and Vision.

Mission - VisionWhy Important?

I know that some of you will gag at the thought of developing Mission and Vision statements for your group. Maybe you have spent a whole weekend developing a Mission statement for hospital and come up with “We serve patients.” Maybe you group has tried to do this in the past but it is so ethereal that individuals don’t see the connection between these statements and what the group is doing.

This is not “kum-bah-ya” stuff. Mission and Vision statements serve a hard-core business purpose. Mission and Vision statements help the group by:

  • Identifying how to properly allocate and utilize resources.
  • Elaborating group thinking and identifying gaps in agreement that need to be negotiated.
  • Setting the stage for all other planning.
  • Serving as a guide when setting strategy and making decisions. The group’s leadership should always be asking “is this taking us toward our vision?”
  • And most importantly, giving the leadership something to hang their hat on when they ask a physician to do what is best for the group rather than the individual.

We have found that, in developing these statements, the best results come from working through a set of questions as outlined below:

Mission Statements

A Mission Statement is a statement of the group’s purpose and reason for being.

Medical groups develop a Mission Statement to help them communicate with themselves (and sometimes others) why the practice exists and to set parameters for what the group hopes to accomplish.

A Mission Statement answers the following questions:

  • Who does the group wish to serve (consider geographic area, types of patients, types of referring physicians, etc.)?
  • What “customer” needs does the group wish to satisfy? “Customers” may include patients, referring physicians and others.
  • What physician and staff needs does the group wish to satisfy?
  • What are the core values and requirements for being a member of the group?
  • What principles or policies guide the group?

A Mission Statement is intended to provide motivation, general direction, an image, a tone and/or a philosophy for the group.

Vision Statements

A Vision Statement addresses where a group is heading by answering the following questions:

  • What is your preferred future? What does the group intend to become?
  • Looking out 3 to 5 years:
    • What services and specialties do you plan to offer?
    • What geographic region do you intend to serve?
    • How many locations are you likely to have?
    • How big will the group become? Will you grow to fill the service needs of the market, or will you set an upper end limit on the number of physicians in the group?
    • What type of relations will you have with others? Will you remain an independent group?
    • What benefits do you hope to provide for the owners and employees?

Avoiding Hallucinations

You may have heard the quip “the difference between a hallucination and a vision is the number of people who see it.”

This is why we recommended that developing these statements be a group activity. Yes, most group leaders can create Vision and Mission Statements on their own. But when they present these statements to their group, the result is usually “that’s nice” and the group moves on to other issues.

Instead, development of these statements should be a group activity for two reasons:

  1. Answering the questions noted above often leads to a rich discussion about what the group is about and where it is heading.
  2. When the group members discuss these questions and develop these statements they are more likely to embrace them.

Once Mission and Vision statements are developed, the next steps are to look at groups strengths and weaknesses, review the environment for opportunities and threats, and identify the key issues that need to be addressed in the planning process. We will cover these steps in our next article.


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

Will Latham


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