Keeping Your Strategic Plan Relevant


If the last two years have taught us anything, it’s that none of us can predict the future. This is exactly why it’s important for hospital boards to develop strategic plans that are nimble and adaptable to change.

Strategic planning is the process of documenting and establishing the direction of your organization – it is both your road map and your moral compass. It keeps you focused on your hospital’s strategy and goals, while also ensuring those ideals are aligned with the organization’s mission and vision.

Connecting to Internal and External Stakeholders

The strategic planning process is vital to your organization because it helps define what is most important for your hospital and community in the years to come. It also allows for reflection and prioritization of the community’s needs. Strategic planning presents a prime opportunity to elicit and evaluate organizational strengths and weaknesses.

Connecting to your internal and external stakeholders is key during the strategic planning process, as it will help you uncover blind spots and identify opportunity areas for improvement in your services and program offerings. You may conduct comprehensive interviews and surveys with your fellow board members, senior management team, medical staff and patient and family engagement committee, for example. Other beneficial tools for stakeholder engagement include Community Health Needs Assessments and environmental scans, which can be conducted internally or through a third-party.

Culturally speaking, strategic planning fosters teamwork and communication among your board and executive leaders: it encourages creative thinking and simplifies decision-making around organizational goals. The key to successful strategic planning is ensuring everyone on your leadership team is moving in the same direction.

The Board’s Role in Strategic Planning

In the strategic planning process, the board’s role is to set the direction of the organization. The role of the hospital staff and management team is to develop the action plan and implement those action items. Reference the table below for more a more detailed delineation of roles in the boardroom.

Organizing Your Role In the Plan

The Board’s RoleManagement’s Role
Sets the direction of the organization.Collects and shares data and information to foster informed decision-making.
Enhances discussion and decision making.Develops and implements strategies and operational plans to achieve goals.
Ensures the right questions are asked.Recommends KPIs to track progress.
Provides counsel on developed key performance indicators and strategies.Communicates plans and goals throughout the organization.
Provides oversight to ensure goals are accomplished.Regularly reports implementation including successes and challenges.
Evaluate results.Evaluates operational plans and results.
Must be fully engaged in the entire process.Ongoing data collection and information gathering for learning.

Strategic Planning Trends and Relevance

Historically, strategic plans have looked 3 to 5 years into the future. However, a best practice now is to review that strategic plan more regularly and set a vision 2 or 3 years into the future. Your strategic plan should be a living, breathing document! In fact, shortening your strategic plan cycles allows you to give your action items clear timelines and deadlines, and encourages more realistic goal setting.

A regular quarterly or bi-annual check-in is recommended to ensure strategies and key metrics are on track. This keeps everyone engaged and allows your executive team to reforecast regularly and/or adjust action plans accordingly while the board ensures the decisions made are financially and ethically sound. Carving out time on your board meeting agenda (every other month, for example) keeps your strategic plan top of mind – and adding a strategic plan progress report to your monthly consent agenda does the same! At the end of the year, or cycle, the board and executive team should come together to determine if the strategic plan is still relevant and on track or if any changes need to be made.

The health care landscape in Texas – and across the country – is ever-changing, so the need for a strategic plan to address timely and relevant issues is vital. Having a nimble strategic planning framework will allow you to pivot on a dime, reforecast and stay up to speed on what your community needs from your hospital.

We will leave you with some generative questions about strategic planning that will help inform future discussions in the boardroom. If you need any guidance on developing a framework or beginning the strategic planning process, please do not hesitate to reach out to Texas Healthcare Trustees for assistance.

Generative Questions for Strategic Planning:

  • What are the strategic priorities for the organization over the next five years?
  • What are the primary threats to achieving the organization’s strategic priorities?
  • How does the board plan to measure its effectiveness?
  • Have we conducted scenario planning relative to the organization’s strategic direction?