Planning and Visualizing
Loretta L. Donovan
• Shift the focus to the positive
• Involve those who will impact and who will
be impacted by the strategy
• Prototype and empower
• Sustaining the momentum – nurturing a
• Five phases that can be thought of as steps (but which involve cycles of SOAR thinking
• within each step) are provided. These five phases are briefly defined below:
• 1. Initiate – a leadership strategic conversation and formulation on how to apply and
• integrate SOAR with existing strategic planning methods, processes and applications. There
• is also a discussion that identifies the relevant stakeholders and how to bring them into the
• 2. Inquire – an appreciative inquiry into values and mission, internal environment
• strengths and external environment opportunities as well as conversations regarding
• aspirations and results. The “as is and might be” is explored.
• 3. Imagine – a creative dialogue that considers strengths and opportunities, and goes
• beyond to consider aspirations and the most preferred future – a bold vision. This phase also
• identifies the shared value set, vision and mission of the organization.
• 4. Innovate – designing the strategy (how to deliver). Innovation has been defined as
• applied creativity. Strategic initiatives are identified and prioritized to enact change to
• existing processes, systems, structures and culture. These changes take advantage of
• strengths and opportunities to achieve aspirations and results.
• 5. Inspiration for Implementation – is the energy, commitment and tactical plan necessary to
• execute the strategy. Results are used as feedback measures for iterations and course
• see the organization as an ecosystem of
interdependent elements that must reinforce each
other in support of the strategy
No single element on its own can do the job. It is
essential to examine each element in turn and make
the changes necessary to ensure that they are acting in
concert to support the strategy.
• Align all of the elements of the business behind the strategy:
structure, culture, people, competencies, measurement, and
reward systems and motivation to drive it all forward.
• Every measurement conveys a hidden message. Whenever a
company measures something, it is doing two things: It is
gauging performance, and it is making a strong statement:
“This is important.” Failure to measure something sends the
opposite message, i.e., “This is not important.” Thus, it is
crucial that the measurement and reward system act in
unison with the other elements in the business system.
• A new strategy often requires relevant alteration in the way
things are organized and how its decisions get made.
Therefore, it is necessary to ask such questions as:
• To best support the new strategy, should we be organized by
service line, customer grouping, function, geography, or some
• Should we introduce some form of matrix system to ensure
that the proper linking mechanisms are in place?
• What should be the level of centralization or decentralization
for each activity in the patient care and business process
• Success will be achieved only if people are
focused, skilled, and motivated.
• Defining and communicating strategic choices with clarity and
simplicity will create the necessary focus.
• Need to build the competencies required to support the new
strategy, via recruitment, training, and job rotation.
• Motivation is a pivotal factor. The evidence shows clearly that
high-commitment organizations outperform those where
employees exhibit lower levels of motivation. Yet human
beings by nature resist change. People do not easily leave
their comfort zones to embrace the uncertainties brought by
• Culture expresses itself through specific values and
observable behaviors. Business performance and culture are
inextricably linked together.
• Culture is a set of beliefs and behaviors that persist over time
because they help an organization solve its problems.
• We informally grow system of rewards and penalties designed
to ensure that supportive behaviors continue and that
destructive behaviors are extinguished.
• When culture resists strategy, culture wins.
5 Touchstones of Strategy and Leadership
‘‘All things to all people’’ is the original recipe for failure. Success
comes from the ability to create an intense focus on the few things
that matter most.
Logical arguments alone will not win the day. Human beings are
engaged and motivated through stories, metaphors, and pictures
that enliven their imagination.
Long-term success depends on the ability to sense and rapidly
respond to change on a continuous basis.
Confront reality and make tough choices; admit mistakes and learn
from them; lead change in the face of resistance; tell the truth when
it is unpalatable; do the right thing when it is more profitable not to;
and stand up for principle above expediency.
‘‘If you want to be a leader, you must first be a human being.’’
Leaders are judged as much by how they deal with human issues
as by what they do.
Your future is up to you.
Build on strengths to create the future you most desire.