Nervously, the soles of your feet are pressed firmly against the starting blocks. The screams of the crowd resound like a thousand thunderbolts. The starter's pistol points upward. The trigger is pulled. You eject forward.
But how long is the race?
Is it a sprint, the finish line looming close? Or is it a long distance race, requiring more subtle strategy and tactics?
How do you view the business of your medical group? Is it a sprint or is it a marathon? Are you in it for the long haul or just for a quick buck? If the deal with the hospital dies, will your group fall apart ... good riddance or great tears?
Even if a cop from a film noir classic took a hose to you, few would admit that they consider their medical group's business a sprint. Yet many groups run their business as if it were.
Some consultants have even found a way of profiting from this mental turmoil. Several months ago, I read a review of a new book by an "expert" who advises that since business today moves at the speed of light, the "old" strategic question of "where do you want to be X years from now?," must now be "where do you want to be a few days from now?"
What total crap.
Perhaps if one's version of doing business is limited to posting on Twitter, imagining until next Tuesday is a long term view. But that's sheer lunacy if you are running (or a non-managing owner of, or even an employee of) a real business, especially a medical group.
Too many physician groups either have no strategy in place and are therefore totally reactive to events, or have a plan of sorts that actually consists of unintegrated tactics. This has contributed in no small part to physicians' loss of control over healthcare.
Strategy is the map toward your intended destination, not simply of each individual stop along a way that is left to chance. Tactics are steps in the implementation of strategy.
Yes, plans go awry and no one can guaranty that there won't be challenges to the strategy along the way. In fact, there will be countless small and major challenges thrust at you in countless ways.
The key is to have a strategic outlook that incorporates both a long-term, overall strategy, together with independent, but coordinated, substrategies for various business goals. Tactics, too, must comport with this duality: You want to be able to implement tactics and to change them as necessary as quickly as possible - on a few days or even a few moments notice. But those tactics are only important if they are aligned with your group's overall business strategy; they are not a substitute for a strategy.
If you plan on being in business a few years from now, your strategic view has to be at least that long ... or much longer.
On your mark, get ready, ....
Next month: How To Tell If Your Medical Group Has A Future.