(Note: Part I of this article can be found here.)
What is a vision statement and why should you care?
Physician leaders being recruited into new leadership positions go through a long and detailed process, allowing the organization to evaluate, pontificate, and eliminate… whittling down their candidate pool to their top finalists. At this point, all the candidates who remain standing are qualified and considered strong potentials for the position, right? What motivates them to select one over the others? Often, it may come down to personality, “fit”, chemistry or some other intangible. What we are laying out for you is a way to give the search committee and C-Suite something tangible to base their decision on. You are going to present to them, the thing they wish they had… a crystal ball. It’s called the “Vision Statement.”
There are few, if any, candidates creating this roadmap proactively. There are just a handful of organizations asking for this as a regular part of their process. For you to take the time and effort to create this “crystal ball”, on your own accord, will set you apart from your competition, even if it does not 100% fit their model or goals. You set yourself apart from the others just by doing this exercise and going above and beyond their expectations as a candidate. (Remember, there’s always competition)
The vision statement is a document that lays out your vision for the future of the area in which you will lead. In other words, where do you want, or intend, to take it, given your leadership abilities, and what research have you done on the organizational vision, mission, and core values? What will it look like in 1, 3, and 5 years, and what will it take to get there?
I talked with Niels Andersen, President and CEO of KontactIntelligence, MedCV and VeritasHealthCare and a 35-year veteran in healthcare technology development, consulting, physician recruitment, and physician network planning. Niels says “using the SWOT Analysis approach is a simple but useful framework for analyzing the organization’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT). You will be able to show acknowledgement of the organizations successes and what they do well and should continue to build on, to address areas in which they may be lacking, to minimize risks, and to take the greatest possible advantage of chances for success.”
“Your Vision Statement will demonstrate your critical thinking processes and how you problem solve. Where appropriate, provide short examples of your past successes. Ideally your example closely ties to a current issue your new organization faces but even if it doesn’t match exactly, provide one where they can imagine how your example could apply to their organization.”
“You should: describe the problem, obstacles you overcame, the risks, the solution, the timeline, how success was measured, and the results. “
Finally, this document can be used to create mutual expectations and understanding. Dr Elsie Koh, MD, Founder and CEO of LEAD Physician adds, “Not only will you both work through their dreams and desires but also you will be able to determine if that organization fits your vision for yourself in your career. This vision statement starts the dialogue for you to interview them as much as they are interviewing you and opens the path to having deeper conversations that, otherwise, may not have taken place.”
You and the organization’s leaders can work through what they can support and what they can’t. I can tell you; I’ve talked to many candidates that when asked why they are looking into a new position they say: “because the organization wouldn’t/couldn’t support what I wanted to do.” The vision statement helps clear the fog before you accept the position.
Note: The length of your document should be long enough to provide the information they need but not long enough to require several cups of Starbucks to keep them awake. The ones I’ve seen with the best reactions normally are 5 to 10 pages.
Niels goes on to add, “If your document is less than 4 pages, make sure you have an intro paragraph summarizing what you are recommending. If you have 5 or more pages, include a one-page Executive Summary.”
I recommend you start with a brief “Current State” It demonstrates you’ve been paying attention.
- What’s in place now?
- Services provided
- Current challenges and roadblocks
- Staff turnover if notable
Future State (the meat of the document)
- Where do you want to take it? (Critical!)
- Your plan. What will it look like after:
- Year 1
- How will you approach the research needed to fully evaluate the current state to help you build the road to their future state? (A normal worry is: you come in and make changes before knowing the full picture and ripple effect from those changes)
- How will you gain buy-in from your team members?
- Identify areas of challenge currently faced and how you would approach the fixes or enhancements?
- Year 3
- Growth objectives
- Year 5
- What is your vision for the “big picture”?
- Year 1
- Your plan. What will it look like after:
- What resources will you need to meet your goals?
- Growth and turnover
- Will new service offerings require additional or upgraded equipment?
- IT support and software for data analytics, research, outcomes reporting
- Will new locations be needed to meet your growth goals?
- New services
- Any low hanging fruit you want to mention?
- I don’t think you need detail but it’s worth mentioning the need to review
- What are the opportunities versus challenges you anticipate?
- What are some of the obstacles that could keep you from meeting your goals? Dr. Koh adds “On the other hand, show that you have a positive attitude despite these obstacles. For example, you may tell them that pushing to set big goals beyond the current conditions means there will be setbacks along the way, but these setbacks merely represent growing pains as the company moves towards its ultimate dream goal.”
Be prepared for a couple different scenarios. They may want you to be on-site to present to the Search Committee or they may do it via video conference.
Dr. Koh goes on to say;
“Really take the time to research the company and ask questions. Listen carefully to what they have been struggling with and what they want to accomplish. You may present #1 What would happen if they kept doing what they have been in the next 1-3 years versus #2 What would happen if they implemented a simple shift in one area versus #3 What would happen if they made a dramatic change in 1-2 areas of their processes.”
“Example: If you stick with what you are doing, the company will continue to have outcome measures that are varied across the different hospitals. Doctors will continue doing what they have been and think that their outcomes are the best they can be. Meanwhile, the quality of care will remain the same…. varied and all over the place without any standardization. “
“On the other hand, you mention you’d like to record 5 KPI’s on the EMR, institute a new software like Tableau to allow for data transparency, and engage the physicians on their results as it relates to their peers in a sensitive, private fashion. As a result, you state that there can be a significant shift in results reducing the variability of care and raising the bar on the quality delivered. Hence, the company will start receiving better reimbursement and financial stability. A potential win for all.”
What you will gain from the development of your “vision statement” is invaluable. You will gain insights into the long term fit for you and the organization. Even if you go through this process and find out it is just not the right fit for you, that too is a win. If it is the fit you have been searching for, you have positioned yourself as a critical thinker and problem solver. Lastly, you have provided your new prospective organization the “crystal ball they are missing to see just what the future can holds.