At Praxis Solutions we strongly believe in the value of a strategy map. The chief reason is that it is – visual. Most of us are visual learners. We feel, think, respond to and remember pictures and stories. “Pictures are worth thousand words”. This means one well-crafted picture can tell the story behind three pages of text. Time and again we see the power of a visual representation of strategy.
However, there is another important value in a strategy map – operational alignment. A strategy map visually tells the story of a leadership system and how the system is aligned with mission. In addition, a strategy map shows the connection between budgets and the execution of vision. Processes become aligned around meeting customer requirements instead of asking customers to bend to the requirements of the process. Leadership knows what they are supposed to produce rather than the default command and control.
We recently finished building a strategy map for a rural healthcare organization. An additional phase included the development of a formal leadership system. This too is coming together well. But what we have found that is just stunning is this – the leadership model is perfectly aligned with process outcomes. For example, the strategy map identifies two process outcomes:
1. Safe & coordinated care; and
2. Efficient systems.
Without consulting or directing the outcome of the leadership model we are seeing that two primary results of their leadership system are – safe & coordinated care and efficient system. In other words, there is a recognized cause and effect relationship between what leaders do and the twin goals of safe & coordinated care and efficient systems. As one of the senior executives stated: “I have always been promoted because I was good at being a nurse, but when they put the title of “leader” on me, I was not at all sure what I was supposed do. Now I know”.
This is a powerful statement because most leadership training is focused on the individual leader acquiring organizational power and influence. In this model the role of the leader is to direct subordinates to do her bidding. This understanding of leadership is flipped on its head. The role of the leader is now to create the environment where staff treat patient safety and the coordination of their care as the highest priority. Mindlessly doing what the boss says no longer works. There are clear and unambiguous goals to reach. Furthermore, these objectives are highly measurable so if the targets are not being met, who is responsible – leadership. They cannot play the blame game.
To download a complimentary white paper on mapping strategy: