2016: A year of ‘unusual’ strategy

As is typical this time of year, blog posts are stuffed full of predictions for the coming year. I don’t believe we can predict anything so this is not another one of those prediction posts but rather a wish I have for 2016.

My aspiration is that healthcare organisations spend more of their time properly thinking through their business models and strategies and honestly assessing whether these are up to the job of maintaining competitiveness and meeting the needs of tomorrow’s customers. The year ahead will continue to dish out some unusual challenges (and that’s a certainty, not a prediction), which will call for unusual strategic thinking and delivery.

Let me explain what I mean by ‘unusual’ strategy. It is a term I’ve been using more and more these days to highlight that when proper strategy is carried out (what Richard Rumelt calls Good Strategy) it might seem, and feel, unusual.

Usual strategy is the safe, familiar, somewhat uncreative strategic plans that we see and hear about. These are often developed on the back of some analysis (check out more on my blog about strategy tools) and will typically contain a few aspirational goals and some forecasting numbers. The irony is that many of these strategies are non-strategies. Too often they are about operational and financial performance measures that, while needed to satisfy regulatory or communications requirements, aren’t sufficiently powerful to propel organisations into the differentiated, relevant and sustainable spaces they seek.

There are so many opportunities out there for healthcare providers to better differentiate themselves, stay relevant and set a course to win in rapidly changing and challenging markets. I’m not convinced that usual strategy is good enough. It won’t let them see or be able to capture these opportunities.

My wish is to see organisations across the public and private sectors revert back to what strategy is and does. This will require some bravery in disrupting their own business models, in making some tough decisions, saying no and staying focused. It will feel unusual to many and if it does, chances are they’ll be doing the right thing.

Thanks for reading this. I’d be interested in hearing any views or discussion that it might have stimulated. This has been ‘Away from the Heard’: The Saffron Steer blog.