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By Market Intelligence Team

Does Your Strategic Plan Answer the Question: What Do We Do Now?

Strategic planning used to be a somewhat academic exercise for most executives I know in behavioral health and social service organizations. A time to get together with board members and the management team for ‘big picture’ thinking and team building. But strategic planning is taking on a new urgency. Strategic plans need to answer the question “What do we do now?” and “What do we do next month?” Strategic plans need to work.

So, here’s a quick test of whether your current strategic plan will work for you. Does your plan:

  • Incorporate into your strategy the changing patterns, policies, practices, and preferences of payers of behavioral health and social services?

  • Use metrics to compare your organization’s performance and capabilities with emerging competition in your service delivery system?

  • Address the “disruptive innovations” that will significantly change the economies of scale in your markets?

  • Tie your organization’s budget and technology plans to your strategy for success?

  • Balance the short-term business needs of your organization in the context of its long-term vision and mission?

  • Have a detailed implementation plan with specific accountability for each component and regular monitoring of key performance metrics?

In evaluating the effectiveness of strategic plans, I am reminded of the words of F. Scott Fitzgerald, “An unread book is just a block of paper.” Unfortunately, the same could be said of many strategic plans. The plan not implemented is, indeed, just a block of paper.

If you have a comment or a question on strategic planning in our field, don’t hesitate to contact me. We’re always looking for questions for our popular “Ask the Expert’ series at The OPEN MINDS Circle. And, give some thought to presenting your most recent strategic planning success (or failure) at one of our upcoming institutes. Looking forward to hearing from you —

Monica E. Oss Chief Executive Officer OPEN MINDS

P.S. For more information on our perspectives on planning in this shifting world, check out “The Challenges & Opportunities for Human Service Management in the Next Decade,” a report written by my colleagues John Talbot, Colleen Elmer, and me for the Alliance for Children & Families. (This report will be available for free to members of The OPEN MINDS Circle for the next 30 days.)


Premium members to The OPEN MINDS Circle may also wish to access, “What Really Goes on in the Change Process: The Nuances of Organizational Change During the Implementation Process,” by Daniel J. Brannen, M.S. Learn how to engage your managers and front-line staff in the change process when expanding your services.


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