Here’s a look at how to improve your hospital’s organizational alignment from top to bottom and why getting this right could be the key to meeting your annual strategic goals.
What Does Organizational Alignment Look Like?
When you have system-wide alignment around your annual growth plans and a strategy in place for how to meet a set of trackable and measurable goals, your health system will be able to rally around those goals and work together towards success. Organizational alignment means that marketing, strategic planning, and physician relations teams are ALL aware of the system-wide growth goals as well as the departmental goals. Proper organizational alignment also means there is always a clear next step for how to progress and meet incremental goals and management is equipped with tools and strategies to keep teams focused and motivated.
Easy access to organization-wide, straightforward intelligence and visualizations are key foundational elements to successful alignment because they ensures that all departments are operating off the same assumptions around how teams are doing against their goals, where areas of weakness lie, and where there are opportunities to win. At Stratasan, we see hospital resources getting caught in the weeds, spending the majority of their time in the data: interpreting it, cleaning it, updating it, trying to make sense of it. This leaves less and less time for the higher, more strategic levels of thinking. But, when an organization is equipped with the right tool, all team members work from the same data—service area, time frame, and product lines—and the entire organization benefits from the efficiencies that come with consistent reporting.
Healthy Organizational Alignment: An Easy Way to Differentiate Yourself and Improve Results.
Many hospitals and health systems are failing when it comes to mastering organizational alignment around a strategic plan. Only 14% of employees understand their organization’s strategy and less than 10% of all organizations successfully execute their strategy. If your system can establish alignment, you’ll be doing better than the vast majority of your competitors, which inevitably translates into growth and measurable success for your hospital or health system.
Steps to Improve Organizational Alignment
In this post, we’ll focus specifically on the data piece of the puzzle, providing a path to get all of your teams working from the same intelligence. This is the first step towards achieving company-wide organizational alignment.
As data availability continues to explode in both quantity and types, so have the systems needed to make sense of the complicated, neverending, web of data. All of this data has created an ever-expanding pool of niche software offerings. It seems as though every department has 10 different tools for each of their 10 different needs! Without no end in sight, how do you begin to create organizational alignment around your data—and eventually, your strategic plan? Here are five ways:
- Keep It Simple: If data analysis related to your strategic plan and your team’s progress toward annual goals are captured in a graph or table that requires a PhD explanation, the majority of your team will be lost and unable to benefit from it. Even if an expert analyst’s explanation of the latest fancy chart makes sense to you, you and your team won’t be able to explain it to members of others teams down the line: marketing, physician liaisons, and business development. Alignment requires a shared understanding. If the majority of your team struggles to understand the data being shared, alignment is impossible. Alignment is best and most easily achieved when you keep things simple.
- Make It Visual: After trying to interpret a few rows of an unfamiliar data table in a strategic plan, your team will lose focus and their eyes will gloss over. By comparison, a great strategic plan is one that anyone on your team can understand upon quick review—and more often than not, includes a number of visualizations. Following the advice of the previous suggestion, make your visualizations simple, too: graphs, charts, and tables that are no more than three or four rows that clearly show the “so what” of what you are trying to explain: “what is this data telling me, and what should we do about it?” Every year at Stratasan, we redesign our flagship Market Research Analysis to continually hone the way we visually present data findings. Our newest software offering, Launch Pathway, reaps the benefits our progress and relentless pursuit to keep things visual. Launch Pathway will equip your organization with presentation-ready report building and visualizations that will enable easy dissemination of intelligence to all members of all cross-functional teams. If you want every team member on the same page and able to digest the information in a strategic plan, you have to keep it visual.
Visuals from Launch Pathway:
- Use Objective Data: A wise Stratasan client once shared, “all models are wrong; some are useful.” That one-liner has always stuck with us. By using objective data to form your strategic plan’s foundation, you eliminate any bias and potential “wrongness” that all models, by their very nature, create. It is only after you have buy-in on objective, foundational numbers that you can begin to make useful, albeit speculative and often inaccurate, models. Objective data is crucial for alignment, as it is, by definition, actual fact. By using a tool like Launch Pathway, everyone will working from the same set of objective data and your team can make real-time decisions based upon a unified set of intelligence.
- Set A Long-Term Vision: Setting a long term vision is like a group of people blazing a forest trail. An organization without a vision leads to 10 different paths carved independently by 10 different people. An organization with a unified long-term vision leads to one trail carved by 10 people, all together. To ensure company-wide alignment around a goal, the long-term vision should be stated clearly and repeated often. Don’t fall victim to the trap of assuming that just because one team leader knows something, the rest of the team does too. In order to achieve and maintain that alignment, you must keep your team up-to-date with specific targets regularly; especially if they change. This includes targets around growing a service line, optimizing payor mix, building up patient volume, and others. To make the updates even more effective, go beyond just sharing the numbers and explain your reasoning for selecting those targets. This helps your team get on-board with your team’s direction and rationale in making these decisions. All teams must be aligned around one vision for there to be any chance of meeting it.
- Track Short-Term Goals: To keep your team motivated throughout the year and ensure that you are tracking toward the long-term vision and annual goals, you must have trackable short-term measurements for success. These short-term goals break the larger vision down into bite-size pieces and make the larger goal feel more attainable. Quarterly meetings and reports will keep your team on track toward meeting the larger strategic goals. More often and on a less formal scale, weekly check-ins will make sure your organization has collective alignment around step-by-step progress toward reaching the goals.
Don’t be one of the many healthcare organizations that fails to meet their annual strategic goals due to a lack of organizational alignment. With these five steps in mind and the help of a tool like Launch Pathway, you can move toward a pattern of consistently meeting your annual goals.
Stratasan’s Launch Pathway can help your organization work through all the above mentioned steps, providing you with much needed organizational alignment around your strategic plan. Company-wide alignment that can come after sharing easy-to-share visualizations will more quickly encourage invaluable high-level strategic conversations. Everyone will be on the same page, from analysts to executive management, expediting data-based conversations around how to solve growth related questions.
Article by Tony Camarata, Product Manager for Stratasan