When preparing for the year ahead you hopefully start to think about the goals you want to achieve in the coming year – increased revenue and profit goals, higher average occupancy, higher bed fees and so on.
These are all valid goals that you should then create a strategy around to ensure you achieve them.
But, where are you actually going with your care home? Where do you want it to be? How do you want your business to look at some point in the future?
We’ve looked at how to create your vision, which could be many years in the future. (Japanese corporations are known to have visions that are up to 150 years in the future – they really know how to think long-term).
You cannot reach your vision in a single strategy. A strategy needs to get your care home business to a key milestone. Once there, a new strategy would be needed to get you to the next milestone.
This milestone could be where you ultimately want your care home business to be (you may not want more than one care home) or one of several milestones that get you closer to a bigger vision (you may ultimately want several care homes).
Each milestone is a strategic destination.
So, what would be the next big milestone in the development of your care home business? What is your strategic destination?
Do you want to move towards more specialist care? Do you want to expand your care home’s bed capacity? Do you want to have another care home?
Think of your strategic destination as the basecamp and as the intermediate camps that you need to aim for, rest and acclimatise at, on the way to reaching the top of a mountain like Everest. (Hence, represented by tents.)
Strategic destinations are clear milestones that you need to reach and then gather yourself and review, before moving on to the next milestone. They represent natural plateaus in the growth or status of your business and help you set and align annual goals to this destination.
If you’re a care provider with a couple of care homes, building or buying a new care home and getting it to full occupancy would be a clear 2-or 3-year strategic destination.
Once there you would then naturally take stock, ‘acclimatise’ and check that the now larger business is working well or if cracks have appeared. Maybe another care home isn’t performing so well because your focus has been on the new home and you may have weaknesses in your management that you need to address, or you may need to look at your structure and decide that you need a regional manager sitting between you and your home managers.
You may stay on this plateau for a year, a few years or decide to simply stay – that is of course your call. If this is a milestone towards a bigger vision, then when you’re ready you define your next big milestone – strategic destination – and create a strategy that will help you get there.
If you have defined a strategic destination, review it and check that it is still valid. If you don’t have one, then now’s the time (before you set your annual goals) to create one.
Create a Clear Strategy Statement
Your Strategic Destination should be described how you intend to reach this destination, within what time frame, with what products and services and who your target customers will be. This is called a Strategy Statement.
A strategy statement creates a more concrete destination than a vision does and fills a too-large-a-gap between your vision and mission and the goals you set. It is a simple statement that communicates what your overall strategy is.
Your strategy statement will help you stay focused and on course and will help your people understand exactly where they’re going, how they fit into the overall direction of the company and the difference they make to the success of the business.
A strategy statement should be a statement that is unique to your organisation and which differentiates it from others. It will also help you and your people with the strategic, and often difficult, choices you and they have to make.
In their Harvard Business Review Article, “Can You Say What Your Strategy Is?” David Collins and Michael Rukstad state that, “Most executives cannot articulate the objective, scope, and advantage of their business in a simple statement. If they can’t, neither can anyone else.” They go on to say, “Companies that don’t have a simple and clear statement of strategy are likely to fall into the sorry category of those that have failed to execute their strategy, or worse, those that never even had one.”
A good strategy statement provides clarity and should cover the objective of the organisation, include boundaries of expectations such as results and time and communicate an advantage.
The key elements to a strategy statement can be broken down into the following:
- Action – what is it you’re going to do?
- Result – what will be the result of your action?
- Timeframe – over what period will you achieve this?
- Method – how will you do this?
- Product or service – what is your offering?
- Customer – who are your targeted customers?
- Means – through what means will you achieve this?
A single strategic destination and strategy statement describes a more specific vision and mission in one step. For example, you might own 2 care homes, which you want to expand to 10. That is your vision that might take say 10 years to achieve. Your strategic destination might be to expand to 3 care homes and your Strategy Statement may go something like.
We will expand to 3 care homes, each of which will be the top care home in its geographical region (what you will achieve) by mid-2020 (time period) by offering the best quality residential care (what you are offering) to people over 55 with acute mental health needs (specific customer base). We will achieve this through evidence and research-based care, quality training beyond what is mandatory and a culture that focuses on wellbeing as well as clinical care (how you will do it).
Take out the text in brackets and there’s a strong strategy statement.
Strategy statements provide clarity.
Collins and Rukstad poetically use the analogy of employees being like iron filings. Pass a magnet over the iron filings and they all line up. The strategy statement is the magnet and with it, people are aligned in the same direction and have a clearer understanding of their role how it fits. “It allows everyone in the organisation to make individual choices that reinforce one another.”
Your strategy statement will also help you define and focus on your Strategic Priorities.
Once you have your strategic destination defined then, aligned with a set of strategic priorities, you can break it down into your annual goals. Now, your annual goals will align with a clear strategic destination.
Define the route you are going to take to reach your strategic destination. Stay on it and you will be more effective, focused and see a bigger return for your effort.
Most organisations lack a strategic destination (supported by a clear strategy statement and priorities) and come unstuck when trying to connect their high-level purpose, vision, mission, and values (assuming they even have them) and what they will do to realise them, because the gap is too wide.
Your strategic destination bridges that gap and will help you stay on course.