Five Keys to Managing Strategic Initiatives for Value

 

 

Leading companies are accelerating performance with these steps.

 

Does your organization have too many key initiatives? Have you and your colleagues been double- or triple-booked on key initiative teams? Are you having trouble realizing benefits from these efforts? Does management keep generating new projects without completing existing ones?

Many organizations today are afflicted by too many concurrent projects. The good news is that leading organizations have figured out how to manage their portfolios and outperform their peers. This article does not attempt to capture all 35 best practices and techniques to accomplish those desired outcomes; rather, it focuses on five best practices from one exceptionally successful program, at a leading hospital chain, to provide focus to accelerate your company’s financial, customer, process, and people results.

 

1. Prioritization of projects: The hospital chain leadership team regularly reviews the portfolio of enterprise-wide projects against the company goals, strategic plan, strategy map, and balanced scorecard performance results (red, yellow, or green) for relevancy, impact, and resource allocation. This regular review ensures that projects are matching up with changing market conditions and new strategies and not burdening the organization with too many projects.

  • For example, the leadership team reviewed more than 180 projects and scored them against the system goals and balanced scorecard. The team decided to stop about 85 projects to free up organizational capacity and focus on five strategic initiative teams each quarter to drive meaningful results.

 

2. Sponsorship: Executive, administrative, or department leader sponsorship and participation are continuous throughout the life cycle of the project team. During that time, the sponsor is active in steering committee meetings, team training, and implementation of pilot programs.
Some implementations extended beyond the initial team cycle, thus requiring continued sponsorship. Frequently, teams productively debated issues but would require sponsorship guidance to ensure progress. This is important because a typical project’s life cycle is limited to 12 weeks. Keeping projects on a compressed schedule is beneficial for employees and internal customers and for realization of benefits.

  • For example, the CFO’s planning and budget initiative team constructively debated the appropriate scope and time frame for making transformational improvements. The CFO sponsor participated in weekly meetings to provide guidance and clarity to support the goal of a 57% reduction in complexity as measured by budget line items in the first year.

 

3. Governance: In this high-performing program, the steering committee consisted of the CEO and his direct reports, but it was flexed as needed to include additional leaders functioning as sponsors of the areas being addressed.

  • For example, in a rapidly maturing program, a strategic initiative team focused on the entire organization, a hospital, in contrast to a single service line. Therefore, the steering committee evolved to include the hospital administrative team and physician leadership, as well as the overall enterprise CEO, because of the scope and materiality—a project that saved millions of dollars. Further, the local hospital board and the system board received regular updates.

 

4. Executive review and oversight: It is vital that the executive-level steering committee meet every two weeks during the 12-week window to provide milestone updates or due dates for the team leaders to present findings. The continuous review also heightens the team’s expectations and accountability.

  • For example, the Ancillary Services Sleep Lab team recognized the importance of the upcoming steering committee meeting and, as a consequence, prepared a decision tree for pre-qualifying, registering, and scheduling sleep lab patients.
  • This “quick win” was part of a larger pilot to improve volume and utilization of the sleep lab, which had potential for high growth. The decision tree was readily approved by the steering committee for immediate field deployment.

 

5. Rapid permission to proceed: Team leaders present a standard set of five slides to the steering committee with their working papers in the appendix. One of the five slides, called “Permission to Proceed,” contains a summary of recommended actions for which the team is seeking immediate approval. These actions enable the team to maintain momentum inside the 12-week life cycle, demonstrate progress, and test pilot programs to manage risk and assess the value of full implementations later.

  • For example, the emergency department team’s presentation to the steering committee recommended an investment to hire shift coordinators who could reduce patient wait time and improve patient satisfaction.
  • The pilot program required an immediate approval to hire staff inside the 12-week period. Within 24 hours, the steering committee approved the request, and the pilot program generated the targeted results during the first seven days of implementation, week seven of the 12-week cycle.

 

Experience shows that it takes three to six months to implement these five best practices and 18 to 24 months to implement the full suite of best practices across an organization. These practices can enable the leadership team to manage your organization’s portfolio of strategic initiatives to accelerate financial, customer, process, and people results.

 

About Bob Paladino:

Bob Paladino CPA, CGMA, founder of Bob Paladino & Associates, LLC, (www.paladinoassociates.com) is a former executive and longtime thought leader and implementation practitioner in the CPM field. His firm advises boards of directors and executives and offers a full suite of CPM services for rapidly implementing and integrating proven best practices to drive breakthrough results. He contributes to leading research projects at several institutes and has established dozens of CPM offices and core processes for leading companies.

He is a highly sought-after speaker for industry and trade events and executive roundtables with experience in over sixty cities globally.

Bob can be contacted at: bobpaladino@paladinoassociates.com

 

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