“Continuous strategic planning” is the process of continuously recalibrating organizational strategy in response to emerging constraints and opportunities. It is a departure from the traditional strategic planning approach, which runs on three- to five-year cycles. Think of traditional planning like the old infomercial: “Set it and forget it.”
There are two key benefits of continuous strategic planning. First, it enables organizations to be more flexible by pushing them to constantly recalibrate against emerging constraints and opportunities. Second, it instills a culture of continuous improvement and shared accountability by regularly bringing leaders together to collectively find solutions to these new constraints or opportunities.
The pace of change in health care is accelerating, bringing a wider variety of disruption. Notably, an uptick in exogenous events—including the Covid-19 pandemic and climate disasters—are showcasing the inflexibilities and risks that a traditional strategic planning cycle can bring. This traditional approach to strategic planning no longer suffices in a world where such events will continue to grow in frequency. Health care organizations must adapt, or else they risk remaining overly exposed to sudden shocks, competitors, or new entrants that are better suited to navigate the environment.
Shifting to a continuous strategic planning approach requires an organization to change how it decides on its strategic priorities and how it cascades that work across its staff. It also means examining the organization’s culture and attitude toward uncertainty and change. Organizations looking to adopt this approach can expect the transition to take time and to receive pushback as individuals adapt to increased accountability and workstream volatility. Organizations should assess their cultural readiness before they commit to continuous strategic planning.
Continuous strategic planning is the process of continuously recalibrating organizational strategy in response to emerging constraints and opportunities. It can differ from the traditional strategic planning approach in a variety of ways.
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