5 Truths About Your Strategy

By Tom Schramski, PhD

Volume 1 Issue 4, March 18, 2014

It’s possible that “strategy” is one of the most misused words in today’s business English. With much thanks to Alan Weiss, mentor and best-selling author of Million Dollar Consulting, as well as Benjamin Tregoe and John Zimmerman, authors of Top Management Strategy, it is quite clear to me that what we call strategy is a disservice to understanding what effective strategy is about. As Trego and Zimmerman emphasize, strategy is “the framework which guides those choices that determine the nature and direction of an organization.” In other words, strategy is the vision of what an organization should be and provides guidelines for the choices made at the outset and along the way.

With this in mind, here are five truths for the leaders of companies, healthcare and otherwise, who are looking to formulate a strategic view of their marketplace:

  • Strategy and operations are two very different matters and operations must make sense within the strategic focus of the company. You can have effective operations within an unclear strategy, but that means your future prospects are dubious.
  • Long-range planning is separate from strategy, and easily strays from a strategic focus. Have you ever developed an 87-page “strategic plan” that seemed to be nothing more than a fantasy of the next five years?
  • If you know the “driving focus” of your organization (the scope of future products, services, and markets) and are not attempting to be everything to everyone, you are well-equipped to see the future and assess the product/service decisions you need to make in your marketplace.
  • Strategy is about believing you will be around for a sustainable future and acting as such.
  • If you understand the strategic framework of your organization, you can make fundamental changes in your business model that make sense. If not, you are only guessing, and likely basing your guesses on the fear of the unknown.

Clearly understanding the driving force of your strategy and developing an effective strategic framework requires self-discipline. Many of us balk at this in our preoccupation with daily operations and prefer the “fly by the seat of our pants” approach that may have even worked at one point. The problem with the latter approach is that it will bring anarchy to your business model while decreasing your opportunities for success in the rapidly evolving new normal.