Group Culture

You Can Plan on This!

August 15, 2016

“No plan survives contact with the enemy,” is a famous concept credited to many, bastardized by dozens, and plagiarized by even more. That’s because it’s true.

But the fragility of plans does not mean that you should forsake planning for your medical group’s or healthcare business’ future. In fact, it means just the opposite: You should plan (well, strategize, actually) against multiple potential changes that could impact your business.

I won’t lie to you and tell you that it’s possible to be prepared for any and all possibilities, but it’s far better to be prepared against many than against none.

And, consider the simple fact that when change happens and your plans are destroyed, it’s a bit late to begin thinking about new plans. So, do it ahead of time.

How will your business strategy shift if there’s universal healthcare? What happens if the hospital closes? How will you maneuver if the hospital CEO, with whom you have a very tight relationship, is fired? What if Google does into gastroenterology? What will happen to your retail pharmacies when the Clinton Capsule program kicks in and all drugs are “free?” (OK, just kidding. I hope.) And so on.

This process of identifying potential events and trends, conducting what I call the Scenario Survey Process™, is a necessary part of establishing a vibrant strategy for your business.

Before going further, it’s essential that you understand the important distinction between planning and strategic thinking.

Planning is a process of projection from the present. However, extrapolating future problems based on one’s present situation is never effective; this tactic presumes the facts of your present situation will remain the same. They never will.

Unlike planning, strategic thinking is based on envisioning a future and then strategizing to, in essence, have that future pull you toward its accomplishment. A strategy involves an ongoing, changing process that, if done properly, allows the creators to regularly revisit and alter the approach.

In essence, a Scenario Survey involves identifying as many realistic potential scenarios, or conceivable futures, as possible.

The purpose of the Scenario Survey is not to identify potential scenarios, judge the odds they might occur and estimate the benefit or damage that would result. No matter how expert you are at strategizing, it is impossible to identify and value all potential risks.

Instead, the purpose of the Scenario Survey is to identify classes of underlying trends, issues and questions and to develop a strategy that accounts for as many possible future “worlds” as can be.

There’s no right answer and there’s no wrong answer, at least as an academic exercise. I do this work with my clients and what we’re after is a strategy or set of strategies that will be the most flexible in the face of the highest number of these possible futures.

Do yourself a favor and start now.

After all, as in Mike Tyson’s version, “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

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