Executive IDN Insights are emailed to you bi-weekly to provide executive supply chain leadership insights from two of the most trusted healthcare supply chain leaders. For decades they’ve led large supply chain organizations and now offer you their strategic thoughts on pressing issues you should be considering.
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Planning is Not a Luxury, It is Essential
Mike Langlois

Listening to Dr. Jerry Linenger, United States Navy Flight Surgeon and NASA Astronaut (Retired), give a vivid description of “lift-off” while sitting in the Space Shuttle on his way to the International Space Station at last month’s IDN Summit, I pondered the amount of planning that must go into these “little” journeys.  When he shared his recollection of a fire on board the ISS during his five-month stay, his advanced planning was a matter of life and death. 

Do we have a plan to “lift-off” our organization’s five-year strategy?  Do we have the nimbleness and planning in place to handle the fires that arise during our “planned” activities? 

I have found over my 40-year career that the most effective leaders are those that not only have a clear mission, vision, and values, but also a clear three- or five-year strategic plan that is shared with the most senior leaders through the entry-level staff within their organizations.  These plans not only describe what goals are to be accomplished over a specific period of time, but they also highlight why these goals are important to the overall organization and how are they going to be accomplished. 

If you don’t have a strategic plan, I invite you to draft one as soon as possible.  Find a day or two out of your busy schedule to remove yourself from all distractions and truly think about what you believe are the most important and impactful accomplishments you and your team should attain over the next three to five years.  If you still have a local library, rent a room for a couple of days, shut down your phone and laptop, and truly focus on not only the what, but the why and how you and your team will be successful in bringing the most value to your organization. 

Once a draft is completed, I invite you to rent that same room and share with your direct reports. Provide them the insights of your thought process and give them an opportunity to weigh-in and influence not only the wording, but the actual strategic plan.  They may bring additional or different thinking that must be considered, but by providing them your initial thoughts, you are providing a framework and clear understanding of your intended priorities and the rationale for those priorities.  Once finalized, share with the person or persons you report to, getting his/her input.  This step should ensure that your priorities are in line with those of the organization. 

Once complete, share your strategic plan with as much of the organization as you are able, including board members, executives, peers and staff.  Consider sharing your strategic plan with key stakeholders outside of your organization, such as clients or suppliers.  The more individuals that understand what your objectives are, why they are your priorities and how you plan to accomplish them, the more support you will receive and the easier it will be to remain nimble in the face of fires that ignite. 

It is obvious that Dr. Linenger survived his five-month stay on board the International Space Station and the fire that broke out during his journey.  The years of planning to take this trip paid off in not only surviving five months in space, but also in handling the emergencies that arose while aboard.  Are we prepared to be effective in our roles over the next three-five years?  I invite you to clear your mind for a day or two and ensure that you are prepared to handle whatever the Healthcare Industry throws your way. 

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