Aligning and streamlining your planning efforts for long-term success
This article was written by Bonnie Noble, PhD, RN, Founder of The Ondina Group, for the April 2017 edition of “Networking News.” The Network Technical Assistance Project is funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, Health Resources and Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through a contract to Rural Health Innovations, LLC, a subsidiary of the National Rural Health Resource Center.
We’ve all heard that familiar quote, “Failing to plan is planning to fail." This is likely a contemporary paraphrase of one of Benjamin Franklin's quotes: "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail." And then, of course, Winston Churchill said, "He who fails to plan is planning to fail."
OK. You get it. You know planning is important. But, sometimes it feels as if we can spend so much time planning that we don’t have time to get anything done. And, what about all those plans required when we’re seeking funding? Just the other day, a client commented on how the funding agencies “require an odd collection of similar-looking documents—Strategic Plan, Logic Model, and Action Plan.” She groaned when I replied, “Don’t forget about the Evaluation Plan and the Sustainability Plan.”
This “odd collection of similar-looking documents” each have a specific purpose and make an important contribution to program and organizational success. Moreover, it is helpful to understand how these various plans fit together in a sort of “less is more” approach that provides simplicity, clarity, and good design while streamlining your planning and writing efforts.
First, let’s briefly examine the key purpose for each one of these plans.
So, how do these plans overlap with and link to one another? The following Planning Crosswalk describes, visually, how these various plans are related.
It is important that these plans are aligned and integrated. For example, your three- to five-year program goals and strategies identified in your Strategic Plan align with the program-specific impact and outcomes in your Logic Model(s). Likewise, your Work Plan is a more detailed description of the initiatives outlined in your Strategic Plan and the activities described in your Logic Model.
The usefulness of each of these planning tools is enhanced by regularly consulting and comparing them. Developing, linking, and using these planning tools will help to ensure that your programs, and your organization, remain focused on its core mission and reaches its goals and vision.
Two important Baldridge program concepts are especially useful here—alignment and integration.
Examples of alignment and integration include linking key goals and objectives in your overall organizational Strategic Plan and your program Logic Model(s). Then, the Work Plan provides more detail on how your stated objectives will be achieved and who will be responsible for doing the actual day-to-day work. Likewise, the Evaluation Plan is a drill-down on how you will collect, analyze, and report data to ensure you remain on target towards reaching stated goals. Finally, the Sustainability Plan describes what actions you will take to ensure long-term viability of your program.
There is great value in aligning and integrating this “odd collection of similar-looking documents,” and doing so will enhance the effectiveness of your organization and its various programs. And, of course, you will more efficiently utilize the most precious resource—your time.
Bonnie Noble, PhD, RN, has an extensive background in the healthcare industry, with more than 30 years of experience working in a variety of healthcare organizations. She has expertise in many quality and performance improvement methodologies, is certified in patient safety, and is a certified professional in healthcare quality. Bonnie has served a National Examiner for the Baldrige National Quality Award and also has managed large federal contracts with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). She currently serves as the project director for the Mendonoma Health Alliance, a grantee of the Rural Health Network Development Planning Grant Program through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).
[i] Balanced Scorecard Institute. Retrieved March 1, 2017 at http://www.balancedscorecard.org/Resources/Strategic-Planning-Basics
[ii] W.K. Kellogg Foundation. East Battle Creek, Michigan. 2004. https://ag.purdue.edu/extension/pdehs/Documents/Pub3669.pdf
[iii] Developing an Effective Evaluation Plan. Atlanta, Georgia: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health; Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, 2011.
[iv] The Grant Helpers.com. Five Key Elements of an Effective Sustainability Plan. 2014. Retrieved on March 2, 2017. http://www.thegranthelpers.com/blog/bid/204687/The-Five-Key-Elements-of-an-Effective-Sustainability-Plan-for-Grants
[v] Baldrige Performance Excellence Program. 2017. 2017–2018 Criteria for Performance Excellence.
Gaithersburg, MD: U.S. Department of Commerce, National Institute of Standards and Technology. http://www.nist.gov/baldrige
This article was written by Brendan L. Ashby, MBA, MPH, MCHES, FACHE, Dean of Health Sciences and Service Programs, Saint Paul College for the “Networking News” monthly newsletter. The Network Technical Assistance Project is funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, Health Resources and Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through a contract to Rural Health Innovations, LLC, a subsidiary of the National Rural Health Resource Center.
Having been involved in the development and leadership of rural based healthcare networks in Minnesota and health workforce training in post-secondary academic institutions has shown me the importance of strategic planning. As network leaders, our charge is to assess the viability of the current or emerging network, gauge if the network is tactically positioned to meet its goals and objectives, and identify which strategic concerns and challenges warrant immediate leadership attention (Ashby, 2014). However, as important as strategic planning is, I have found it useful to adopt a mindset of strategic process that involves strategic thinking, acting, and learning that are just as important if not more important than any approach to strategic planning (Ashby, 2014). To help foster that mindset of strategic process, I want to share two of the tools that have helped my stakeholders and me-the Business Model Canvas and Strategy Change Cycle.
Business Model Canvas
When I was preparing for strategic planning sessions with my network, I wanted a novel approach and a colleague of mine suggested I try to develop business model canvases that she had effectively incorporated into her strategy sessions. The Business Model Canvas is a strategic tool developed by Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur as a way to visually capture and describe a network’s business model. I have had great success when using the business model canvas, especially when engaging reticent stakeholders that might have limited experience in any type of strategy planning or experts who appreciate the pragmatic framework. This unpretentious but powerful tool can demonstrate what is happening within a network and its value proposition in nine key areas:
Strategy Change Cycle
The Strategy Change Cycle developed by John M. Bryson can assist network leaders to figure out what the challenges are and provides ten steps to work through the strategic planning process. The strategy cycle will help network leaders think about your stakeholders and who needs to be part of the discussion; what details does the network leadership need and if you are missing any information; how you are going to implement this strategy process; if this is realistic; and lastly how can we create the highest enduring value for the people that your network serves (Ashby 2014).
The ten steps are as follows:
The final steps of using both the Business Model Canvas and Strategy Change Cycle will occur when your network reassess your identified strategies and remember to be agile, change when necessary, and make corrections as needed. You need to constantly be thinking strategically. Remember, this is a process and not a one-time project. If you keep that in mind then you will be successful.
Ashby, B.L. (2014). Topic Based Essay. Creighton University, Omaha, NE.
Bryson, J. M. (2011). Strategic planning for public and nonprofit organizations. San Francisco, CA, USA: Jossey-Bass.
Osterwalder, A., & Pigneur, Y. (2010). Business model generation. Hoboken, NJ, USA: John Wiley & Sons.
Thompson, A. A., Peteraf, M. A., Gamble, J. E., & Strickland III, A. J. (2014). Crafting and executing strategy: Concepts and readings (Vol. 19th ed.). New York, NY, USA: McGraw-Hill Irwin.
The National Rural Health Resource Center (The Center) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to sustaining and improving health care in rural communities. Rural Health Innovations, LLC is a subsidiary of the National Rural Health Resource Center.