iProtean—Mission & Strategy

iProtean—Mission & Strategy


As strategists, the vital skills for the board are: ask, listen, assess. (Punit Renjen, Board Chair, Deliotte LLP, “Exceptional Boards,” Leadership Excellence, March 2012)


Boards play vital roles for the organization and must work as a team with management to direct the organization to long-term success.  It begins with board members being stewards of a community asset; that is, the hospital/health system organization.  Board members must ensure a balance between meeting community needs with maintaining the financial integrity and strength of the organization in the long term.


Board members must also be strategists.  By exercising the dual roles of stewards and strategists, boards provide direction to the organization and set the path for that direction—offering important counsel during strategy formulation, rollout and ongoing adaptation to market developments.


In the iProtean course Introduction to Mission & Strategy, Marian Jennings, Todd Sagin, M.D., and Jeffrey Bauer, Ph.D. discuss mission and strategy as core responsibilities; the differences between for-profit and not-for-profit hospitals in the context of “mission;” the role of the board in setting strategic direction, mission, strategy and tactics; and the role of the strategic planning committee.

Marian Jennings, M. Jennings Consulting

When I think of the mission of the organization, I immediately think also about the vision of the organization.  The mission is a statement of intent, a statement of purpose, why we exist.  The vision of the organization is how are we going to carry out that mission, so it’s a statement of what we are going to do, while the mission statement is a statement of why we exist.  So they’re very different and complementary and what we want to do is we want to make sure that we establish a clear strategic direction with meaningful measures that would tell us this is how we know we’re accomplishing that direction, that convince us as a board that we are carrying out our mission.


Todd Sagin, M.D., J.D., Sagin Healthcare Consulting

As a board member, you are a fiduciary for the community, to assure that your hospital or health system is carrying out the objectives for which it was established.  We call those objectives the mission of the organization.  As you provide oversight to management and the medical staff, you have an important function to make sure that these elements of the institution are promulgating its purposes, its mission.  When you look at financial performance, when you look at quality performance, when you look at individual performance of management, when you look at strategic goals, all of these things should be taking place to further the ultimate purpose or mission of the institution.


Marian Jennings, M. Jennings Consulting

An organization cannot spend too much time discussing its mission and vision, and being extremely clear about its mission and why it exists, and allowing the mission to drive the strategic direction and not just think, “Well, if I do all the right things then maybe I’ll figure out what my purpose is.”


Todd Sagin, M.D., J.D., Sagin Healthcare Consulting

It’s important for board members to constantly reflect on the mission of the hospital as they discuss and consider various strategies for moving the institution forward.  Is part of your mission to provide the broadest array of services in your community?  Is part of your mission to provide easy access of services to all segments of the community?  If so, as you implement specific strategies you must constantly revisit your mission and ask yourself the question, does this strategy adequately achieve those purposes for which we have dedicated this institution?


The hospital board needs to make sure that the institution, the hospital or the health system, is acting consistent with the needs, the wants and the goals of the community.  This may sound self evident, but many hospitals are enterprises that can easily become focused on the desires and needs of those who work there and in particular those of the medical staff, and sometimes lose sight of what’s important to community members.


Jeffrey Bauer, Ph.D.

Strategy is the purposeful response to anticipated change, and no one but the board and executive management of the hospital has the responsibility for strategy.  In the long run, the issues of terminating a program or reallocating resources, moving in new clinical directions, developing partnerships, those are the responsibilities of the people who are asking the big questions.


Marian Jennings, M. Jennings Consulting

When a board member ends his term as a board member, he should assess whether he has served the community well and whether the hospital is in a financially stronger position than when he became a board member.  Use this as your guiding light:  always put the community’s needs first, but make sure that when your final term is up, the person who will take your seat is inheriting an organization with greater financial flexibility than the one you inherited.  If you do this, then you have done an excellent job as a board member.


“By playing their role as strategists and risk and scenario planners, boards can assist management in mapping a firm’s ultimate destination.” (Punit Renjen, Board Chair, Deliotte LLP, “Exceptional Boards,” Leadership Excellence, March 2012)


For a complete list of iProtean courses, click here.


iProtean Symposium & Workshop

Mark the Date!! October 10 – 12, 2012 at The Lodge at Torrey Pines, La Jolla, CA. Faculty: Barry Bader, Dan Grauman, Marian Jennings and Brian Wong, M.D. For more information, click here.


For more information about iProtean, click here.