Sticking to Strategy
Accomplishing strategic goals can sometimes feel impossible. I have a couple solutions.
- By David Kopf
- Dec 01, 2017
The easiest thing to do in life is come
up with a plan. The hardest thing is to stick to it.
That’s exactly why I loathe things like New Year’s
resolutions. For starters, the timing is all off. By the
time you announce a New Year’s resolution, you’re
already behind the eight ball — you have only a
vague intent to do something, and no time to get
started. And actually following through on New
Year’s resolutions? Well, I think we’ve all followed
that pathway of good intentions until disappears in
Frustratingly, the “New Year’s Resolution
Effect” isn’t limited to our personal lives. The
same dynamic impacts us on a professional level.
I started thinking about that at the last Medtrade
held Oct. 23-25 in Atlanta. The show offered a
Mount Kilimanjaro of rock-solid professional
education across a number of pressing industry
topics, and served it up in a variety of formats. The
show is easily one of the best values for industry
education available to HME providers, but all that
education can easily fall by the wayside.
Why? Because actual life intrudes. There’s a
business truism that speaks to this: “we spend
more time working in our businesses, rather than
on them.” It is so true. Ask yourself, how often do
you come back from a trade show with a dozen or
so great ideas to help your business grow? Now,
ask yourself how focused you are on implementing
those ideas three months later? The answer for
most owners and managers of HME businesses is
that they likely aren’t all that focused on them.
It’s understandable Too many things intrude:
an experienced employee resigns, you lose a key
referral partner, a payer changes their funding policies,
you get audited by Medicare — all the realities
of running a provider business crop up and throw
you off track.
What you need is a method for keeping yourself
on track. I have some suggestions that might help.
Set SMART Goals
The first thing you need to do is set some goals.
But what are the right ones? Nebulous desire to
accomplish something doesn’t get you to the finish
line. You need to break down your strategic objectives
into individual milestones, and a good way to
do that is with the SMART method of goal-setting,
which was first described by George Doran in
Management Review back in 1981. Doran’s tried-and-true technique requires that goals be:
- Specific. Never work toward vague objectives.
You should set quantifiable goals such as “I will
expand my monthly revenues by 10 percent.”
- Measurable. You must be able to track your
progress toward a goal and measure how well you
are doing using reliable performance indicators.
- Activity-based. The goal will require steps
to accomplish and you will need to map out these
steps and accomplish them to work toward your
goal. What will you need in terms of resources and
help to accomplish them?
- Realistic. Never be over eager or over optimistic
in terms of what you want to accomplish.
Set smaller, attainable goals rather than continually
failing to tackle overly aggressive goals.
- Time-bound. You must set hard deadlines
for accomplishing your goals and hold yourself
accountable if they are not achieved on schedule.
Setting the right kinds of goals is only half of
the equation, however. Now you need a method of
actually sticking with them.
The two best tools for that are regular reporting
and review, but you need to have structure. Establish a procedure for reviewing performance
regarding those goals on at least on a quarterly
basis, and ideally a monthly basis. During these
review sessions the team must ask hard questions
and provide honest, objective answers. Are we on
track, behind on our goals, or ahead of plan?
It’s critical for the team to use consistent, reliable
data in assessing its performance for the
past quarter in order to determine where it needs
improvement and where it is excelling. Moreover,
it is perfectly acceptable to recognize unplanned
variables, such as market conditions, or internal
company issues that are throwing you off-goal. The
key is to start adjusting your plans for accomplishing
your goals around those variables.
As long as you honestly assess accurate reporting
data, you should start seeing trends that tell you
where to tweak your gameplan for accomplishing
your strategic goals. But the key is that you must
stick to this reporting and review process. No
matter what life throws at you, your reporting,
review, reassessment and adjustment must always
take priority. Easier said than done, but that
dedication will make the difference.
This article originally appeared in the December 2017 issue of HME Business.
David Kopf is the Executive Editor of HME Business and DME Pharmacy magazine. Follow him on Twitter at @postacutenews.