Strategy is hard. Leaders are expected to develop and implement strategies that move organizations forward. This requires a sound understanding of business drivers, industry direction, technological advances, upcoming regulations, etc etc etc. It might be easier to focus on the success of a single implementation, upgrade, or project, but this myopic strategy might undermine your ability to realize maximum business value from your (often expensive) technologies. Leaders of healthcare organizations must therefore begin with the end vision and work backward. That end vision should be the potential business (or patient care) drivers that technologies might improve.
A few folks at MIT Sloan published findings about the relationship between technology and strategy:
“What separates digital leaders from the rest is a clear digital strategy combined with a culture and leadership poised to drive the transformation. The history of technological advance in business is littered with examples of companies focusing on technologies without investing in organizational capabilities that ensure their impact. In many companies, the failed implementation of enterprise resource planning and previous generations of knowledge management systems are classic examples of expectations falling short because organizations didn’t change mindsets and processes or build cultures that fostered change.”
Without an effective and coherent strategy, the benefits of technology go unrealized. A digitally immature organization tends to focus on existing operations, while a digitally mature organization develops and executes a strategy to transform its business. Without a strategy that seeks to derive value from technology, IT doesn’t matter, as Nicholas Carr argues in his oft-cited HBR article. According to Carr, unless a given technology is proprietary to a company, that technology does not provide any inherent competitive advantage on its own, because eventually all companies will adopt the technology. Leaders cannot view technology as an end in itself, but should instead view technology as a means to strategic ends.
Talent is essential to digital transformation, and Sloan found that only 19% of organizations in the early stages of technological transformation are able to build the necessary skills to capitalize on digital trends. Agility may be more important than developing long-term technology skills, because demands will change rapidly and this rapid rate of change requires an agile staffing strategy. Investment and risk precede the rewards of a well-executed strategy, and organizations must invest in the right people.
Leaders should also maintain a strong physical and digital presence to inspire confidence, generate innovative dialogue, and excite team members about organizational vision.
“Employees in digitally maturing organizations are confident in their leaders’ ability to play that digital game. More than 75% of respondents from these companies say that their leaders have sufficient skills to lead the digital strategy. Nearly 90% say their leaders understand digital trends and technologies. Only a fraction of respondents from early-stage companies have the same levels of confidence: Just 15% think their leaders possess sufficient skills, and just 27% think their leaders possess sufficient understanding.”
John Halamka provides a great a example.
In today’s agile environment, the costs of inaction almost always exceed the costs of action. To assess your organization’s strategy, ask yourself these three questions:
- Does out healthcare organization have a strategy that goes beyond implementing technologies?
- Does our company culture foster digital initiatives?
- Is our organization confident in its leadership’s digital fluency?