Introduction to Strategic Planning

Strategic planning represents a systematic, flexible and continuous process to define or reaffirm the main purpose of an organization, visualize the future in the context of internal and external business environment, establish clear strategic directions, build organizational commitment, and formulate strategies to overcome challenges and maximize future opportunities. Strategic planning is one of the key management tools used to sharpen organizational focus, improve overall performance and ensure long-term sustainability. Strategic planning alone cannot produce results; however, a properly planned and executed strategic planning process brings a number of benefits to the organization, patients and our community at large.

Clarity of strategic directions achieved through the strategic planning process is essential particularly when various improvement and innovation initiatives may compete for limited organizational resources. Strategic planning can be successfully done at many different levels of the organization; it may be limited to one division, department, unit, specific function, or it could involve multiple departments or the entire organization. Although strategic planning at any level of the organization may be perceived as a daunting undertaking, effective strategic planning enables organizational leaders to create a unified, integrated and comprehensive blueprint for action in pursuit of operational, clinical, research, and academic excellence. Setting and implementing multiple strategic goals and objectives within an inherently complex and uncertain system requires consistency, cross-functional integration of action plans, alignment, and seamless coordination among departments, teams and other stakeholders within and outside the organization. The strategic planning process and resulting decisions have significant ramifications, not only for the future of the organization, but also have an immediate impact on day-to-day operations. When achievement of the strategic goals requires a large-scale organizational change strategic planning must rely on visionary leaders who fully understand the change process in a complex organization. Effective leaders have to focus on achieving results, convey a sense of urgency, remove obstacles, visibly demonstrate commitment to their employees, foster open communication, and persistently reinforce the shared vision, mission and core values by their actions. At the same time, organizational structures, systems and processes to support change efforts must be carefully designed and implemented.