Decisions are not always directed at problems. Decisions may be proactive and used for making plans for the future. Managers make decisions with both short and long term implications for what the work environment will be.
Some long-range decisions are made to determine institutional direction, to define what the institution is. Who are we as an institution? What do we want to be? These are questions that might start off a discussion aimed at developing a strategic plan.
A strategic plan is a written document that tells what an institution is all about. It gives the institution the opportunity to clarify what it feels is important. A strategic plan addresses all facets of the organization. It is designed to communicate consensus. Many representatives from different areas are invited to participate in the strategic planning process. Strategic plans pertinent to nurses are created by hospitals, schools of nursing, community based care agencies, and other organizations.
The most commonly utilized type of strategic planning follows a goal-based approach. This starts by articulating an institution’s mission, vision, and core values. Goals are then set, and after carefully examining specific characteristics of the institution, strategies are outlined for attaining the goals.
Steps in the Strategic Planning Process
- Mission – A mission statement lays out the purpose of an organization. It tells “why” an organization exists.
- Vision – An organization’s vision reflects what an organization hopes to become. It answers “where” the organization is going.
- Core Values – The values an organization chooses to highlight reflect beliefs about priorities. Core values may be related to characteristics specific to the organization. For example, an organization that is faith-based may espouse Christian values.
- Goal Setting – Setting goals clarifies what the organization hopes to do. Goals are “what” the plan sets out to accomplish.
- Environmental Assessment – The resources of an organization must be carefully examined to see what the organization is able to support. An unfavorable organizational climate may negate the ability to implement certain strategies.
- Strategies – The last step is to develop strategies for reaching the goals. Strategies should be grounded in the environmental assessment. Strategies should be fairly specific, addressing the timing when actions should be initiated and who is responsible.
The strategic planning process gives an organization a framework for taking a close look within. One tool that is used frequently for assessment is termed “SWOT analysis,” which stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Strengths and weakness are internal assessments, meaning they refer to aspects within the organization. For example, a strength of an organization may be its possession of state-of-the-art equipment in its newly built cardiac care center; however, a weakness might be not having adequate numbers of nurses trained in advanced cardiac life support to staff the unit. Opportunities and threats are external factors. For example, a homecare agency may have the opportunity to expand after another agency in the area closes. However, the same agency may face a threat due to inadequate funding.
The strategic planning process can also be used to determine marketing initiatives. After determining what an organization does well, such a thing can be capitalized on in advertising. Other ways of planning marketing involve market research. Market research is done by an organization to determine what the customer wants. Surveys can be done, often by contacting former customers (patients). The organization can then try to deliver those services.
Nursing service can be used in marketing. A hospital may boast about its nurse-patient ratio, or about high ratings for patient satisfaction. Marketing can be important when there is competition for shares of the same customer base. Sometimes institutions will focus on specific aspects of their services. For example, a hospital might create a women’s health center for mammography and other services for women. It can then strongly market itself as being responsive to women’s needs. Whether one likes it or not, health care is a business, and must be profitable to survive.
Whether for high quality patient care, improvement in the work environment, or to chart a direction for future services, problem solving and planning are important to the nursing role. Nurse managers are called on to plan for unit activities and to participate on committees involved in organizational change. The importance of being responsive to needs cannot be overemphasized.
“Difference between Leadership and Management”
“Leadership Characteristics that Facilitate School Change”
"Management of Nursing and Health Care Services: ICN Position Statement”
“Seven Habits of Stephen Covey”
“The Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership”
Healthcare for the Future: Presentations
“The Strategic Planning Process”
“Build a Strategic Framework”— parts 1 through 5