A strategic plan is the answer to the question: “How do we get from where we are today closer to the dream state in our Vision”.
The mission states our purpose, our reason to exist and from that the vision builds. It tells us about how our dream future will look, when we are doing the mission perfectly.
But a vision is just a dream without a strategic plan, that tells us HOW this will be realised
The strategy builds on top of the Vision by explain HOW we are going to get closer to the vision, from where we are today.
My name is Marcus Hammarberg and I work for the Salvation Armys Health Foundation in Indonesia. We have 6 hospitals and 15 clinics spread out through Indonesia.
During the last couple of years we have been talking a lot about mission, vision and strategic plans. Having a strong vision is very important to make sure that every part of an organisation is pulling towards the same goal.
This is the third presentation and I urge you to watch the first two if you have not yet.
So the strategic plan tells us how to get from where we are today closer to our vision state.
One important aspect that we is easily to overlook and at the same time liberating is the “from WHERE WE ARE NOW” part.
There’s an old joke from England that goes something like this: A tourist walks up to a taxi in London and asks: “How do I get to Piccadilly Circus from here?” The taxi driver looks troubled and answers: “Oh, that is hard. I would not start from here.”
Well we are here. We don’t care much about how we got here. We do care, however, how to get FROM HERE closer to our goal. There’s no use planning from a starting point that doesn’t resembles the current state. The more honest we are the better chance that our strategic plan will help us.
Did you notice the other part? “Closer to our goal”. Sometimes the Vision statement describes a goal that we will never reach. Remember the Walmart Vision (“To be the largest and best retail organisation of the world…”).
That is state that they might never reach. But striving there will give us a lot of benefits.
This is also why it might be interesting to, already when thinking about the Vision, think what we are going to measure to know if we are getting closer or not. Those thoughts will be handy now, because now we can use them to measure the outcomes of the activities in our strategic plan.
Here’s the definition of the word Strategy.
The thing that I find interesting and noteworthy here is that although it’s a careful plan. It’s still a plan. A plan for a future that we don’t know how it will be.
In the word plan and strategy is included an amount of “this is what we think”. It’s a calculated risk. The best path forward.
The strategy will also test and validate our shared understanding of the vision. Because writing a strategic plan for how we are going to get closer to our goal will be very hard if we don’t have the same perception of what the goal is.
By this we also understand that a strategy needs to be flexible to respond to the ever changing reality we are in. It would be very unwise to create a detailed strategy today for things that happens years down the road. Because by then the world around us have changed.
This is the reason many company creates a road map of the strategies that we have planned. This lays out the different things we are going to try to reach our goal.
Make sure that your roadmap does not become a tunnel, with only one fixed way of doing things. A map means that there are several ways to reach the goal. I will show you a tool that helps with this is problem in a follow up presentation on Impact Mapping.
The things that lies far away in the future doesn’t have to be planned in equal detail as the things that we soon will start to work with.
In fact, they SHOULD not be planned as much. Because plans, as the real world, have a tendency to change. As we execute one step of our strategic plan we might fail, we might learn new information, new opportunities arises. Our strategic plan should be realistic in this regard and show only enough details.
As part of the strategy we will also have to create a business plan. This shows the resources and investments our strategic actions will require. Sometimes this is referred to as Master Plan.
Part of the business plan is of course a budget, but that is not the only thing we need. There might be training, hiring new staff and building projects involved. In short; the business plan lays out the details of the steps in our strategy.
The requirement for details in a business plan follow the same principles as the strategic plan. Planning too far ahead is wasteful since that future is unknown.
However the business plan should of course be realistic in what is achievable. Dreaming of money falling out of the sky will not help us reach the vision faster. Herein lies a challenge in balancing the level of details and the realism.
Here I wanted to show you some examples, as in previous presentations on Mission and Vision.
Finding examples of strategic plans is by definition harder, because this is literally the “strategy of the business”. How are we going to be smarter, better, faster, reach higher quality than everyone else? How are we going to use our limited resources in a wiser way?
Most companies are keen not to reveal this. For obvious reasons
So instead, let’s create a little example ourselves. Since this presentation is limited in time I will only present some ideas. In reality creating a business strategy is a much more detailed process, spanning week of time to create…
Or does it have to be? Check out the Impact Mapping presentation.
Let’s go back to our example Vision statement for a fictive hospital in Bandung: “Become the best small hospital in Bandung, known for our quality and patient focus”
Let’s, for the sake of brevity, only focus on one part of this: “quality and patient focus”. How should we become “known for” that? In my mind to get qualitative, patient focused care has to start with the nurses. The nurses are the people closest to the reasons for any hospital to exists: the patients.
Now, how to get better quality for nursing? Well, we could train them. Let’s add that to our list of ideas, strategies. We should make sure to attract the best nurses We should make sure that the good nurses we invest in don’t leave Equipment and facilities needs to support the good quality We do not just want great nurses in our hospital, we want great Salvation Army nurses.
As you can see this turns out to a list of many ideas. I find it useful for each to take a hard look at it and write down the reason for us doing this, by asking the question: “How will this help us get closer to the goal?”.
We do this to make sure that we are aiming, heading for the Goal and don’t get sidetracked by investing in things that doesn’t support the vision.
Another thing that I find very useful is to define a couple of stand-points for each point: - Where are we today? - What is our strategy, hypothesis to get this done? - What actions, investments or changes needs to be implemented? - What can we measure to see if we’re getting closer or further away? What does Done look like?
As with the vision statement I find this very clarifying and also builds a common understanding. By detailing out this, for the strategies close in the future, we also create a very good road map and structure in which to run the changes.
Did you notice my use of the word “hypothesis” before? That was no coincidence.
Remembering that our strategies is just ideas for how to get from where we are today to closer to our future we also acknowledge the fact that we don’t yet know the best way.
This is great news because there’s a tried and tested method to navigate in these circumstances; the Scientific method.
This is how most scientific knowledge of today has been discovered.
Basically it goes like this: * ask a question - for one of our strategies * gather base data about the current state - where are we today * pose a hypothesis - what will happen if we do this * do an experiment - implement a small part of the strategy, the first step * Analyse the result - measure the effects of our activities. Not the activities of course, but the outcome. * Now comes the really good part: Whatever happens is great. ** If the hypothesis was proven true - then all is well because we can continue to implement more of the strategy. We are moving in the right way ** Should our hypothesis prove wrong - then all is well because that means not only that we have learned something new, but also that we can stop going in the wrong way.
Let’s try it out with an example * Question: Quality in Nursing Gather data about our current state: Where are we today? What to measure? How to measure? Let’s do a survey among the patients and the nurses to establish a base-line Hypothesis: We will have better quality in nursing if we … invest 3 days of training per month and nurse. For example * Test the hypothesis: let’s try this out for 3 months. * Analyse result: How? How often? What does Done look like? In our example - let’s do a survey again with the patients and nurse, after the test period. * Validate hypothesis: YES - it was better. GREAT - let’s continue or increase it then! NO - it was worse because it took away a lot of time from being with patients. GREAT - let’s do something else since this didn’t take us closer to the goal.
Strategic plans is a more detailed topic and I don’t want this to run longer than 20 minutes. I’ll end it here.
The mission tells us WHY we exists. The vision builds on that by painting a picture on when we are executing the mission perfectly - a post card from the future.
Our Strategy outlines the ideas we have to go from where we are today to closer to the future described in the Vision statement.
Being a strategy it is also ideas and thoughts we have. We don’t KNOW that this will work out.
A good way to navigate in such uncertain circumstances is to use the Scientific method
In the next presentation I will introduce you to a tool, a way of working that is very useful in creating strategic plans.
My name is Marcus Hammarberg. This has been 20 minutes on strategic plans
Thank you for listening.
Tuhan Memberkati Anda - God Bless you.
20 minutes on strategic plans
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