A Review of “How to Build a Strategic Plan that Sticks” by Afterburner
By Kevin Howard
Some practice owners might actually make a case against strategic planning. It takes time away from potential revenue-generating activities, needs to be revisited, and requires a level of discipline and foresight some people just don’t possess.
However, as discussed throughout this issue of Impact, strategic planning is beneficial to a business, even amid times of change and uncertainty.
In the podcast “How to Build a Strategic Plan that Sticks” by Afterburner, hosts Joel “Thor” Neeb and Will Duke outline key areas a private practice owner needs to focus on to build a successful strategic plan that’s worth the time and effort.
FINDING PRIORITY OBJECTIVES
There are two important processes when creating a list of priority objectives: the process of developing the plan itself and the process of collaboration when putting the plan together.
During the process of developing the plan, it is key to have the end destination in mind. This will allow a practice owner and other stakeholders to then work backward to determine the necessary steps to reach the end goal.
Anti-planners will be relieved to know that Neeb and Duke advise against ultra-long-term planning—a 25-year goal sounds nice in theory but it’s hardly realistic and the time spent planning that far ahead isn’t time well spent. The best timeframe for strategic planning is three years, which allows owners to be flexible and make adjustments to the plan if anything comes up.
Priorities to include in the plan should cover both big-picture goals as well as the granular tactics that will help you achieve your objectives, including marketing goals, expansion plans, moving into a new area, and more.
Neeb and Duke also advise listeners against neglecting industry insights or trends, no matter the size or age of the business. These big picture insights can help owners identify what needs to be done to achieve the goals and objectives that will become a priority in the strategic plan.
COLLABORATION MEANS SUCCESS
A problem with a long-term strategic plan is sustainability—it lacks the ability to build energy, interest, and buy-in with staff so that the plan carries itself. Involving staff in the strategic planning process will help them understand what the business is doing and where it hopes to go in the future. This is the process of collaboration.
Engaging a team to plan as a group helps them feel like the plan is theirs and that they have ownership of it. This creates more sustainability for the strategic plan because employees want to see their vision for the private practice become a reality.
KEEP UP WITH MARKET CHANGE
Duke points out that one of the tragedies that many companies experience with strategic planning is that they set the strategy at the first of the year and then don’t look at it until the end of the year, at which point they realize they didn’t execute any of the objectives outlined in the plan.
To combat this downfall, perform strategic rhythm. This means getting all stakeholders together at a minimum quarterly basis, but ideally once a month, to evaluate the strategic plan. These meetings allow the plan and the business to become more flexible while also pivoting in critical moments that could benefit the business.
The podcast also speaks about debriefing all staff in the company on the pivots being made to the plan. This front-line learning is key because it brings the people who are interacting with customers into the conversation. With their experience cascading upward in the business in the quarterly or monthly meetings, it then informs the entire practice on how effective the strategy really is.
YOU CAN DO THIS!
While practice owners are eternally busy, setting aside time for strategic planning is critical. However, there are tactics to help make strategic planning an effective exercise that’s beneficial not just for the business but for owners and staff alike.
Kevin Howard is a staff writer for PPS based in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. He may be reached at email@example.com.