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What is strategy?

From military to industry to healthcare

Strategy is a much discussed and probably equally abused term, which was first used in the military context to describe a set of goals, tactics, logistics, and analytics. Strategy basically describes how specific goals can be reached under the circumstances of limited resources.

Several definitions of management strategy in the context of business have emerged since the 1960’s. Mostly all authors incorporate goal-setting, consideration of limited resources and competitors, as well as the definition of measures to reach the goals into the strategy building. The renowned Havard professor Michael Porter, who emphasized competition in his interpretation of strategy, brought it down to the simple formula: “The essence of formulating competitive strategy is relating a company to its environment.”

There is hardly an industry from banking to aviation to FMCG’s (fast-moving consumer goods) and other services that doesn’t spend weeks and months developing enterprise strategy. All the Fortune 500 and most successful companies, irrespective of size and domain across the world, carefully develop and implement strategic plans.

How important is strategic planning in hospitals?

But should not the investment of time and resources in strategy development and execution be as common or even more pervasive in hospitals than in business firms? Hospitals are one of the most dangerous structures made and managed by mankind. Also, hospitals are extremely complex structures with a plethora of interprofessional interdependencies between their different fields of activity from the administration over health services to cooperation and competition.
Even more, hospitals chronically labor under limited resources in almost every country worldwide.

Long-term success in healthcare requires a multi-dimensional quality perspective

From a care provider’s view quality of care should, of course, be the primary focus. But how important are parameters such as employer quality, quality of cooperation, and the economic outcome?

Patient care builds on people, cooperation, and infrastructure. Optimizing the human factor in health care is a prerequisite to improving quality sustainably and requires an advanced perspective on the hospital`s relevant quality dimensions that mutually interact with the quality of care: Focus on the patient, but to do so, we have to focus on the “organization hospital” first.

Hence, a comprehensive strategy would be even more crucial to ascertain safety for patients and employees and, not least, the long-term economic prosperity of every hospital.

“The essence of formulating competitive strategy is relating a company to its environment.”

Michael E. Porter, *1947

Scope of the course

You will receive insights on applying strategic principles developed for other industries and how to apply them in your specific hospital setting.

In this course, simple strategy development and execution tools, as well as compelling case studies, will be presented.

You will appreciate that hospitals with superior management and aligned strategy outperform its peers significantly in key financial and even clinical outcomes.
You will also understand that enterprise strategy is a battle for peoples` minds. Mindshare will lead to market-share.

Eventually, you are invited to develop your personal strategy toolbox.

Section 1: Introduction

First, the nature and context of the complexity that are intrinsic to hospitals will be discussed. A deep understanding of hospital complexity is essential to develop a practical and meaningful strategy in the healthcare environment.

Time-tested and popular strategic frameworks and their customization for application in hospitals will then be introduced. The frameworks span external and internal measures and adress all the hospital`s stakeholders.

Developing a specific corporate strategy can be based on generic strategy concepts such as price leadership, quality leadership, differentiation, customer relationship, or network building.

A vital element of a successful strategy is a vision that is easy to understand, specific, and actionable to unite all stakeholders behind it.

The holistic strategy consists of several components. In addition to the corporate strategy, the business strategy and the implementation strategy should also be developed to derive concrete, coordinated and value-creating measures finally.

The corporate strategy defines the fundamental business areas and the corporate identity with the company’s fundamental values.

On the other hand, the business strategy is more concerned with the product and service offering and addressing the market environment.

Finally, the implementation strategy covers pricing, service scope, quality, and change management issues.

Combining the business model with the analyzed business environment finally results in an individual strategy for the company.

We will dive deep into generic strategic principles and illustrate how they can be implemented in your specific hospital situation.

The section also contains the correlation between vision, mission, and actionable measurements, which eventually lead to change management projects that are in line with the hospital`s strategy.

Section 2: Basic knowledge

Internal frameworks support shaping and understanding the hospital`s internal situation and parameters to facilitate measures that align the employees’ mindset with the overall strategy such as the expectation-experience matrix and your specific hospital health hexagon. Tools like the BCG matrix will help you to clearly delineate relevant key performance indicators.

Very often, a classical SWOT analysis is the stepping stone of each strategic campaign. But, the initial analysis of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of a situation in healthcare only serves as a meaningful stepping stone for your strategic project if stripped from a too academic and theoretical perspective.

Finally, additional perspectives such as Michael Porter’s five forces model can provide a higher resolution view of the business model environment.

Since strategy is a key determinant of future corporate activities, trend analyses are a necessary part of the analysis process, despite their proven low reliability. Political, economic, social, technological, ecological and legal trends are included (PESTEL analysis).

This section aims for the understanding of robust strategy development tools. Knowing such tools will enable you to select and customize exactly those strategy development components that fit your needs and your individual preferences.

Section 3: Showcase

The showcase section contains examples for the practical application of the strategy tools. We pick real-life models to demonstrate the application of business principles in strategy development and execution in the healthcare sector.

The demonstration, of course, includes case studies on hospitals of different levels, from primary care in emerging markets to Western European university hospitals. Also, strategic considerations around green-field and brown-field hospitals will be discussed.

Not least, the role of industry partners such as suppliers, technology partners, and service companies will be covered in this section.

Section 4: Workshop

Your step-by-step action plan for your strategy project

The course closes with developing a personal toolbox for the successful development and execution of a strategy. This strategy can either cover the hospital's overall positioning and goals or be designed for departments or smaller units that need to align with the hospital's strategy.

Therefore, your personal strategy toolbox configuration includes understanding, discussing, and customizing established strategy development tools that fit the hospital's needs and are applicable in the clinical setting.

Strategy development can be a highly complex undertaking. We provide a step-by-step action plan facilitated by the templates and tools from our Hannover Medical Management Manual.

Data analysis as the foundation for a meaningful strategy

First, we put together a robust system of relevant key indicators that allow sound analyses. Without an evidence-based determination of the status quo, developing a strategy is like navigating a sailing ship in the fog without GPS support.

How to create a compelling vision?

We then provide an impetus for designing a compelling vision that should be a real driver for the people, such as staff, patients, and referring physicians.

Strategy execution

Most strategies fail not because of a flawed concept but because their implementation is not consistent or systematic. Therefore, with the Hannover-Medical.Management Manual, we would also like to assist in the critical strategy implementation process. You can select the components relevant to your specific situation from this toolset, from planning, goal setting, and vision development to the necessary measures’ configuration, thus putting together your personal strategy toolbox.

Continuous evaluation

We recommend accompanying the entire strategy process from the beginning with an objective evaluation, which should always be aligned with the primary objective. Continuous, self-critical monitoring of all activities and results enables timely adjustments, prevents misguided decisions, and ensures the sustainable success of your strategy project.


Last but not least, communication with stakeholders is a crucial factor in the success or failure of your activities. For this important part, too, the Hannover-Medical.Management Manual provides helpful support.

* You can take the FREE edition of the course now without making any payment.

If you decide to go for the PRO edition to immediately boost all aspects of your presentation, we will refund your payment in case you are not satisfied with the course.