It’s Business Plan Season Again

Posted on September 26, 2012


August, September and October is high season for strategic business planning in many industries, including design and construction. As I survey the landscape of healthcare and how I can best assist healthcare systems in the near term, I think back to a Fast Company article from February of this year, about what they termed “Generation Flux”.

Although Generation Flux was about a subset of people highly attuned to, and skilled at, maneuvering an ever-changing business environment, I have to think it is a fair analogy for businesses with this acumen. The key nuggets I gained from that article were:

  1. It is / will be important to work comfortably within fluidity, i.e. an economic environment with little reliable pattern and much chaos.  This includes the abilities to embrace instability, course correct on the fly, quickly recalibrate goals and metrics, cast aside assumptions, and operate at the new break-neck speed of change.
  2. Create ways to “systematize change” within your organization.  Be aware of the kinds of problems you are able to solve and the ones you will need to solve.  Develop leadership and decision making processes that are comfortable with constant market disruption, uncertainty, and ambiguity—because most businesses are not.
  3. Know how you will adapt if the pessimists were right—‘what if things don’t settle down?’—and you just might survive.

Maybe this year more than others, businesses are finally accepting what was a mere trend (economic downturn) as the new status quo, realizing the old way of doing this really is dead.  There are no safe havens for investments.  Growth is redefined as low single digits…and that will have to be ok. 

Today’s owners:  ‘Oh, you’ll work for a 2% fee and deliver on time and on budget?  Well, so will everyone else.  How can you limit my risk exposure?  How can you improve my efficiency?  How can you help me make more money?’  

Buying is changing, so selling must change, and the product and service, too.  Bottom line:  you have to do more.

If your big planning decision this year is whether to retire AutoCAD in favor of Revit…good luck in an economy where hospitals that are not growing are in the crosshairs of systems that are—where HAIs are on the loose, capital is tight, reimbursements are down, readmissions must be way down, energy costs are up, IT spending is way up, and systems without solid physician acquisition and real estate management strategies are sucking wind.

Seriously, what can you possibly offer a hospital?  What are you looking at me for?  It’s your business plan.