Very thoughtful piece from the Chronicle of Higher Education, and I agree that this kind of inclusive approach to strategy in higher ed is fundamental to success. Grounding this work in good data, both internal and external, is also necessary. In our experience doing strategy with universities, two additional challenges are making tough decisions about what to stop doing, since focus and limited resources are often a challenge, and then thinking about how to manage the difficulties of change in an environment that is often averse to change.
As the migration from volume to value unfolds in the healthcare industry, past formulas for success can lead to the undoing of an organization today. To make matters worse, while new payment and reimbursement vehicles are emerging, hospital leaders must continue to optimize for the system as it exists today—even as they prepare for the future. It's a seismic shift: from a focus on volume and illness, to a focus on value and wellness. And leaders often feel stuck in the middle while trying to map out a clear path to the future that is coming.
With my colleagues from Second Curve Systems, I'm leading a workshop at the American College of Healthcare Executives' 2014 Congress on Healthcare Leadership (March 24-27, 2014, Chicago) that will... read more »
Moving from strategy to action should be energizing. It's exciting to have a clear direction, a concrete focus—at last, a way out of the wilderness! But for many organizations, putting strategy into action is fraught. Some people just don't like the plan, others are unhappy with who was (or was not!) involved in developing the plan, and therefore dismiss it before it's even put into action. There's no question, though, that if you ask people what they think the plan should include, and loop back to make sure they know you heard them, they are more likely to want to be part of the plan in the future — and that can help your propel your strategy forward. If you think of each person you invite into the planning process as a twinkle or bulb, you are i... read more »
Faculty in higher education don't love meetings, but they want a say in the institution's strategy. At a school of the arts, where the faculty, under previous administrations, felt disengaged from institutional processes like strategic planning, we helped design and participated in a launch event designed to engage a broad swath of educators and staff in the development of a new strategic plan. We adopted an approach already very familiar to them—a studio crit (short for critique), a teaching and learning technique widely used in design schools, in which student artwork is formally evaluated by a group of faculty and students. It is a distinctive, unique communal practice that has deep roots in the singular ethos of art institutes. Its premise is that the... read more »
Margaret Thatcher famously said that "consensus is the absence of leadership." While the statement is debatable, leadership teams—composed of very smart, highly accomplished professionals—often sincerely believe that full consensus is needed before decisions can be made. This belief springs from an authentic motivation—a desire to preserve working relationships, a fear of alienating people who are needed to make change happen, and the feeling that you'll be making the right choice only if you have complete consensus. If everyone agrees, it must be right—right?
The desire for full consensus can also come from more problematic places, though—weakness on the part of the formal leader, fear of going out on a limb and... read more »