Three Strategic Lessons for Independent Medical Groups

October 30, 2013

As healthcare entities become larger they appear as formidable competitors in the marketplace.

So what’s an independent group to do?

November 25, 1863. The Civil War. The Battle of Missionary Ridge outside of Chattanooga.

For several months, the Confederate Army held Union forces at bay within a tight semicircular defensive position. Then the Union Army under General Grant launched a coordinated attack against both sides of the Confederate line as well as at its center. The side attacks had little success. But at the middle, the Union troops breached the line and then . . . things seemingly fell apart for all. Both sides issued confusing orders to their troops: What were the objectives? What was to be defended? But the outcome was the collapse of the Confederate defense.

The first lesson: Seemingly strong competitors have a weak point and their large size makes them overly fragile. Find the point of weakness and exploit it. Grant sent his forces to attack at three points. Only one attack out of three hit a weak point, but that was enough.

The second lesson. A large competitor cannot deal with the confusion quickly enough to save itself. They are too organized, too centralized, too stiff. Although both the Union and the Confederate troops fighting at the center received confusing orders, the Union troops were better at observing the situation and at taking advantage of it. (An illustration of Boyd’s OODA loop: Observe – Orient – Decide – Act.)

The third lesson? The first two are so important for you to consider that the third will only get in the way.

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