Hear Jeff Hunter’s Thoughts on “Putting Strategy Back Into Strategy Deployment”


Today's post is the transcript of a discussion that I recently recorded with Jeff Hunter, the author of the book Patient-Centered Strategy: A Learning System for Better Care.

Jeff is presenting a free webinar that KaiNexus and I are hosting on September 24:

Putting Strategy Back in Strategy Deployment

Below, you can listen to our chat where Jeff introduces himself and some of the concepts that he'll be presenting about. The transcript follows the audio player.


Mark Graban: Hi. This is Mark Graban from KaiNexus. In today's podcast, we're going to be giving a quick preview of a webinar that we are going to be hosting on September 24th at one o'clock Eastern. The title of that webinar is Putting Strategy Back in Strategy Deployment.

Today, we are joined by Jeff Hunter who is going to be the presenter for that session. Jeff, how are you today?

Jeff Hunter: Good, Mark. Thanks for having me.

Mark: You're going to elaborate on these topics in the webinar, of course. Why don't you give a quick preview? Maybe if we can start if by, in your own words, introducing yourself to the audience.

Jeff: I spent nearly 25 years as a senior vice president at Thedacare and had a responsibility for a number of staff functions, including strategy formulation and deployment and a number of other things. As we were implementing lean thinking, I learned the hard way that we were overburdening the organization.

Then when I retired from Thedacare and started working with a number of other organizations through Catalysis, what I continued to see was overburdening of the organizations, lack of differentiation, and just not learning quickly compared to our competitors. That's what got me really exploring this topic of how do we put real strategy back in strategy deployment.

Mark: I imagine a lot of our listeners are familiar with strategy deployment or at least I hope they are, hope their organizations are practicing that in some form.

Before talking a little bit more about strategy and differentiation, what's your elevator pitch if let's say a healthcare executive said, “Jeff, you know, I don't really know what strategy deployment is. Wh-, what is it? Why should that matter, um, to our organization?”

Jeff: This idea of overburdening organizations comes from the lack of making choices. Everyone's strategic plans seem to look alike. When everyone is pursuing the same intentions with no differentiation, you wind up producing this commodity market.

When you don't align all of that work inside the organization, people get confused. They don't learn quickly. Inertia starts to form. If you want to increase your throughput of strategic ideas, if you want to be able to create more value faster, we've got to learn a new way of thinking about how we manage our process of strategic thinking.

Mark: We'll hear a lot more about that in the webinar. Can you think of examples or at least possible pitfalls? What would happen if an organization was putting in the effort to get people aligned around the wrong strategy or a strategy that's not what it could be?

Jeff: I just think there's a lot to be learned from the innovators in our industry, the disrupters in our industry, of how they apply deep customer insights to focusing on the most critical differences, where the real value creation could be now, and defer other things for later.

I'm not talking about deferring things for three to five years. I'm talking about using those deep customer insights and acting on them to create meaningful, relevant differentiation and value for patients now.

Mark: This idea of differentiation is interesting I think from a healthcare standpoint because it seems like there's a default strategy where hospitals or a health system tries to be all things to all patients. Is that something that some hospitals are rethinking or revisiting?

Jeff: It's very difficult for them to do it because there's so many stakeholders involved in setting expectations for hospitals. When you do look at people's plans, everyone's plans do seem to be about we're going to improve safety, quality, customer satisfaction, employee engagement, financial performance, and we're all going to grow at the same time.

When you go looking for what's going to make us unique, what's going to make us different from our competitors, it can be really difficult to find. When you're not executing on creating something that is meaningful or unique, definitely open ourselves up to, again, these disrupters in the industry.

Mark: I think there are a lot of really important issues and thought-provoking points that will be raised in the upcoming webinar. I would invite the listeners to go to kainexus.com/webinars and register for the session. I pause because I think a lot of you are probably driving and listening to the podcast. Wait until it's safe. [laughs] Safety first.

We'll have you please go to kainexus.com/webinars. There's a link to click and register on this session, Putting Strategy Back in Strategy Deployment. Again, it's going to be September 24th from one to two o'clock Eastern time. I encourage you to join in.

I've had the opportunity to attend a day-long seminar workshop that Jeff presented. An hour will scratch the surface. But I know there will be a lot of value there.

Jeff, maybe the last thing to cover, there are also a lot of great insights. I would encourage people to go and check out Jeff's recently released book titled “Patient-Centered Strategy, A Learning System for Better Care.”

Maybe to wrap things up, Jeff, if you could just give the listeners a bit of an overview of why you wrote the book and what you think some of the key messages of the book are.

Jeff: I guess what I learned and what I had to get over was treating strategic planning like it was an event that was going to change every few years where it is really is an ongoing capability so that we stay focused on the critical few and increase that throughput of strategic ideas and stay nimble. It's a process. It's not an event.

Secondly, it's not about what we buy. It's what we do for patients. It's not about assets. It's about process. There's a system for managing vision and purpose with strategic agility. That's what the book is about is, how do we stay focused on patient value and create a system for managing vision and purpose with strategic agility?

Mark: There are a lot of great examples and thought-provoking ideas that draw on some of the latest and greatest thinking in strategic thinking, Matt May and others who have been influences and people you've learned from, right, Jeff?

Jeff: Absolutely. I'm going on the work of others. I'm deeply grateful for what they contributed.

Mark: Again, the webinar is going to be on September 24th. Jeff, I want to thank you for being here on the preview. I want to thank you in advance for doing the webinar. I hope everyone listening will come and join us. Thanks again, Jeff.

Jeff: Thank you, Mark. Looking forward to next week.

And check out the longer podcast I did with him about the book back in July:

And be sure to register for the webinar!

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.



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