Oftentimes physicians approach me because they don’t think their practice has a winning strategy. Moreover, they tell me that they do not believe their practice has the right capabilities to execute the current strategy they were following. Having capabilities is all well and good, but just because you are capable of doing something, does not mean you are going to be successful. “Winning” practices often don’t follow prevailing trends, but rather follow five habits that contradict conventional wisdom to out-execute and out-compete their rivals. Here is my personal take on the five strategy execution practices used by thriving practices:
1. Commit to an identity
Thriving practices focus on a clear target market and focus on what makes them unique with that patient demographic. They avoid chasing growth by pursuing multiple markets in areas where they have no clear point of differentiation. They get very clear about their strategic position and build capabilities that will help to support that position over the long term.
2. Do not get carried away with benchmarking
Practices that dominate the market keep an eye on what competitors are doing, of course, but they do not blindly follow the herd. In fact, they know that using the same technologies, following the same methodologies, and benchmarking the same key performance indicators as your competitors is just a recipe for mediocrity. The leading practices develop a winning strategy that will set them apart in their community (and perhaps in their specialty), and translate their long-term strategic moves into their current projects and performance metrics.
3. Prune what doesn’t matter to invest more in what does
There is a saying: “You have to keep pruning the rosebush if you want to create beautiful blooms”. It’s easy to keep adding new features (e.g. services, technologies) to your practice, and adding new projects for your practice to work on. What’s more powerful is to trim away the bloat and excess, and only focus your resources on the small number of things that really matter in pursuit of your strategy. The key to effective strategic leadership is to figure out what is truly "core", vs what is "context" and "non-core" in terms of your activities and service/technology offerings.
4. Stop constantly reorganizing
I’ve seen many practices try to re-strategize by constantly reworking their organization chart and rethinking incentives. This very rarely (if ever) is a viable solution. Successful practices resist disruptive reorganizations and instead put their core values and culture to work. They use culture, not structure, to drive change.
5. It is not about agility
Practices that dominate the market are not “agile” in the sense that they respond to external change as rapidly as possible. Rather, they are “smart agile”. Physician leadership needs to be agile enough to address threats, or pursue promising opportunities that support your plan, but remain disciplined and focused enough so that you do not end up “chasing squirrels”, lurching from one idea to the next while you lose sight of your original strategic intentions. Successful physicians shape their future by creating the change they want to see.
Up Next: Testing your strategic choices