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The Official Baldrige Blog

Someplace Between Your Past and Your Future


In a recent Hospitals and Health Networks article, Dan Beckham writes, "You can’t figure out where you’re headed unless you first determine where you are. And where you are is someplace between your past and your future. The 'present' isn’t a static location. In fact, it’s more like water moving past a rock. Any effort to pin it down is just a snapshot in time. With these thoughts in mind is a good place to start strategic planning."

“Every strategic plan should spring from an assessment of the organization’s situation,” writes Beckham, and then the organization can look at its most strategic future challenges/issues and prioritize, debate, and address them.

Beckham’s article, “How To Make Strategic Planning Work for Your Health Care Organization,” is very clear that strategic planning is a leadership tool, and as such, executives, board members, and physicians—in the case of a health care organization—should be the chief architects of the strategic plan.

An interesting warning Beckham gives is to “avoid the group hug” (i.e., involving too many people in strategic planning and glossing over “brutal realities” and “shortcomings” for fear of offending). Regarding the involvement of nonexecutives, he writes, “There is, however, an important role for nonexecutives and front-line employees to play. Throughout the organization, their work needs to align with the institution's overall strategic direction. Their input is vital to the action plans needed to turn strategy into results. But that will happen only if direction is clearly articulated and performance appraisal methods are synced with the accomplishment of driving strategies, tactics and actions.”

In another recent strategic planning-related story, “Integrating Strategic Planning and Quality Improvement Methods to Create Sustainably High Performance,” by Soma Grover, Jamison V. Kovach, and Elizabeth Cudney, the Baldrige Excellence Framework is used to figure out where you’re headed by determining where you are—as Beckham notes above. In the article, published in July in ASQ’s Journal for Quality and Participation, the authors write, “To determine a baseline for the project, a survey was conducted, based on the organizational assessment profile included in the Baldrige criteria.”

The profile used is the Organizational Profile, the preface to the Criteria in the Baldrige Excellence Framework. The Organizational Profile is a snapshot of an organization, the key influences on how it operates, and its competitive environment.

And of course, an entire chapter (or category) of the Criteria is dedicated to all of the considerations that go into strategic planning, which are nicely aligned with what Beckham says should be the more important questions and key outcomes of strategic planning. For example, the Baldrige Criteria ask about strategy considerations, innovation, key strategic objectives, resource allocation, workforce plans, and performance measures.

In essence, I believe the Baldrige Criteria provide a roadmap to the very considerations for strategic planning that Beckham highlights.

How do you make strategic planning work for your organization?

About the author

Dawn Bailey

Dawn Bailey is a writer/editor for the Baldrige Program and involved in all aspects of communications, from leading the Baldrige Executive Fellows program to managing the direction of case studies, social media efforts, and assessment teams. She has more than 25 years of experience, 18 years at the Baldrige Program. Her background is in English and journalism, with degrees from the University of Connecticut and an advanced degree from George Mason University.

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Great article and other awareness! It takes a constant awareness to understand current state and keep up with changes in the environment affecting any organization. Customers, suppliers and partners are great sounding boards to gain insight on those changes. I understand the point about "avoiding the group hug" and there is a balance that helps bring various perspectives and some deep-rooted realities that may be blind spots to executives. Trust is key!
I really like this Blog - and the embedded article. Thanks Dan and Dawn. It made me think of my experience with SPP's - especially the starting point statement. I believe just the reverse when planning from a position of ASPIRATION. Starting with Vision, Mission, and Values brings clear focus to the current state assessment - making it wholly relevant. When in a state of DESPERATION - starting with current state may be the best start. Either way - and at course corrections - both destination and "location" need to be in view in order to recognize the "gap" that helps define action. Thankfully we all have the PE framework and folks like Dan as good guides!

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