Case Studies

Non-Profit Health Care Organization.
Project Focus:
Creating a More Strategic and Disciplined Organization

This organization engaged its management team, workforce, Board of Directors, and representative stakeholders and formulated a clear future vision, refined the organization's sense of mission, and developed a long-term strategic plan along with a near-term action plan for the next year. The project also supported the client's objective to actively mature its management culture with a more sophisticated planning process, increased expectations and supporting protocols for discipline in adhering to a Strategic Plan, and a more transparent cross-management dialogue about overall direction and resource allocation.

An organization in transition without a plan is a reactive organization.
When this small (less than 200 employees) health care services organization hired its new Executive Director, it was in a state of rapid growth and transition. In fact, the organization had undergone a series of transitions, but without the benefit of either a future vision or strategic plan to guide or inform its approach to managing change and responding to opportunities for growth. The organization was constantly focused on maintaining the integrity of operations and identifying funding resources, and was essentially holding things together by being creative and doing the best they could. While this approach kept the organization above water, it was becoming increasingly apparent to all parties that the organization could not thrive and might not even survive without some changes. The organization was beginning to show serious fraying as a result of growing pains and a corresponding demand to increase its operational and managerial sophistication. The Executive Director decided that one of his initial challenges was to help the organization establish a clear sense of strategic direction and develop a realistic plan for proceeding.

GMS had previously worked with the organization's Management Team, and separately with its Board of Directors, to strengthen each group's sense of direction and the effectiveness of their respective teamwork and overall working dynamics.

In addition to developing a long-term strategic plan, the new Executive Director also wanted to institute a more rigorous and disciplined management methodology that would emphasize execution and accountability. The organization had a very informal culture that had served it well up until the very recent past. The management culture had reached a crossroads where it would either evolve and guide the organization into a more stable future, or it would be a significant anchor weighing down the organization's efforts to survive in an increasingly complex environment.

GMS worked in partnership with Executive Director to outline a planning methodology that would emphasize analysis, engage the entire workforce, and involve the entire management structure at key junctures, but not become so collaborative and democratic that it would lack a leadership presence. Additionally, a substantial effort was built into the project to focus on instituting and supporting a new management discipline throughout the organization.

The project commenced with an all-employee one-day meeting examining the tradition and strengths of the organization, along with the workforce's future hopes and expectations for their organization both in terms of their workplace and their contribution to the their patients and stakeholders.

A committee structure comprised of Board Members, senior managers, middle managers, and staff was created to conduct a comprehensive environmental scan, evaluate the potential impacts of demographic and other social and political changes on the organization's future, and poll a number of outside experts for perspectives that would help inform a leadership dialogue about the future the organization wanted to create. The committees analyzed their data and formulated recommendations. During a two-day planning retreat for the Board and Managers, the committees presented their findings along with the implications for change and their preliminary recommendations. During that same Retreat, participants created a future Vision and a new business success model that the organization expected to grow into over the next few years.

The initial Planning Retreat was followed with another planning session to establish the strategic directions that would form the foundation of a long-term strategy to achieve the Vision.

Managers who did not participate in the two previous planning sessions were then all briefed and trained in a process to engage their staffs. Each manager presented the draft Vision and Strategic Directions structure to their staff, and then facilitated a process to examine their department's objectives and operations for alignment with the strategy. Additionally, each department generated a set of recommendations for how to improve the overall functioning of the organization.

The entire management team then met for a full day to evaluate this process and to review staff recommendations. They then prioritized the long-term Strategic Directions and developed a set of near-term objectives to be accomplished during the proceeding twelve months.

A subset of the senior management team conducted a further review of staff recommendations and developed a framework for acting on or postponing action on each staff recommendation. They then met with the staff from each department to provide feedback on their recommendations and proposed actions.

The Strategic Plan was further refined and ultimately presented to the Board of Directors for its approval. Following its approval, an outcome facilitated by the Board's early engagement in the development of the Plan, senior management met to establish near- and long-term measures and to begin discussing the management and accountability protocols that the entire management team will employ in order to ensure an organization-wide discipline with respect to executing the Plan.

Each of the above mentioned management and planing sessions was designed and facilitated by GMS. The client's workforce invested significant effort in the work of conducting the planning process, but at no point had to invest effort in designing or worrying about the structure, or facilitating the actual mechanics of the process.

The organization is implementing its Strategic Plan, and GMS will continue to work with its management team on a quarterly basis to support and institutionalize the new management disciplines.