Strategy is Pointless

We need a strategic plan, she launched into an explanation about stakeholders who disagreed on mission, clients who were dissatisfied, dysfunctional teams, and exhausted and over-stretched middle management. It happened that hers was a multi-function health care organization, including insurance for low-income families, an urban hospital, clinics, and prevention services.

That was complex enough, but the institution was caught in the transition of implementing Affordable Care Acta massive shift in patterns of healthcare and service delivery. She was a bit surprised when HSD staff said they wouldn't help her with a strategic plan.

With the number of unknowns and unknowables in her work, predictive planning was the last thing she needed. HSD staff supported her and her executive team to design an Adaptive Planning process, engaging multiple groups of stakeholders, with different assets and needs.

Staff began weekly Adaptive Action cycles to deal with relationship and process problems. The executive team had monthly listening sessions, where they shared their Adaptive Action Whats? and So Whats? and engaged with their leaders in creating shared Now Whats?

A panel of external experts in medical research, law, economics, public policy, and governance met quarterly to provide insights into fast-changing patterns outside the organization. Their deliberations, also designed as Adaptive Action cycles, provided wide-ranging insights to feed the cycles of meaning making and action taking within the organization. Bit by bit, the healthcare environment settled into more predictable patterns. Individuals and teams built their capacity to engage with surprise, and with each other, to choose next wise actions.

It became possible to plan on a more strategic basis. A five-year Adaptive Action cycle provided stability for investment and long-term action, and the teams at all levels of the organization continued to use Adaptive Action to surface and resolve issues across the system.

Related Resources

Rooted in the study of chaos and complexity, Adaptive Action introduces a simple, common-sense process that will guide you and your organization into reflective action.
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