Andrew Miller's Business Checkup // Insights on Operational Effectiveness for Healthcare
Volume 27, May 2013
This monthly newsletter is designed specifically to help healthcare executives and business owners raise the bar within their organizations by providing insights on how to improve performance and maximize operational effectiveness and profitability.

Case Study

The Situation

A healthcare service provider was having performance issues with many of its suppliers. Products were being delivered late and the speed at which issues were getting resolved was getting slower.

The Intervention

Andrew first needed to assess what strategy the organization had in place for managing key supplier relationships and performance. Once it was determined that there was no formal strategy in place, Andrew worked with the organization to identify its key suppliers and develop a strategy on how to manage those suppliers and their performance on a regular basis. This included regular review meetings, performance reviews based on agreed upon service levels, and holding intimate events where a few suppliers would be invited for a roundtable discussion. These roundtable meetings would focus on the direction the organization was taking and how it could better collaborate with suppliers.

The Results
The service provider saw a quick improvement in the performance of its key suppliers. Deliveries were made on time, issues were resolved more quickly and support improved as a result of a stronger relationship with those key suppliers.
About Andrew Miller

Andrew Miller is a consultant, writer and speaker who has helped world-class organizations accelerate results and improve the speed, performance and efficiency of their organizations. His healthcare clients include renowned hospitals, global healthcare suppliers, shared service organizations, group purchasing organizations, private clinics and government institutions.

Andrew provides value to his clients by using his experience from both the private and public sectors to help maximize their strategic and operational effectiveness.

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What insights can you draw from this case study and how might they be applied elsewhere?

Collaboration is paramount to success

Organizations need to provide key business partners with access to information and insight on the direction the organization is taking. The more an organization can collaborate with business partners, the better its performance will be.

Find interesting ways to engage business partners

Holding intimate roundtable discussions can be a very effective way to share information and gain insight on a specific area of the business. Ensure that there is a clear objective for the session and that participants will have ample opportunity to provide their insights and ideas.

What doesn't get measured doesn't get done

It is important to measure key service levels from suppliers and manage the relationship on an ongoing basis. Set up regular meetings to resolve any issues and to review performance. But remember, don't only contact suppliers when there is an issue to be resolved, also contact them when they are doing a great job. Acknowledging that will go a long way in building a stronger relationship.


The Art of Succession Planning

As I mentioned in a recent article, there is currently a leadership gap in healthcare. More importantly, there is an issue with succession planning because of this gap. Or to put it more accurately, this gap has been created because of a lack of succession planning in many organizations.

This will lead to increased external hires for key roles moving forward, which in turn will increase the cost of doing business for these healthcare organizations. Hiring externally is not always a bad idea (and in some cases it is necessary), but it should be done by choice (the organization needs a new direction), not by necessity (the organization doesn't have anyone ready to take over key positions). It will also have a ripple effect in that, if we don't engage them quickly, key young leaders will leave their organizations to find better opportunities elsewhere.

But all is not lost. We can start right now with developing better succession plans for key roles. Here's how to get started immediately:

  1. Identify the critical roles in your organization. Which roles have the most impact on the success or failure of your organization? Hint: These do not have to be only executive positions.
  2. Determine the critical outcomes for which those roles are accountable. What is the expectation in terms of results (not just what is being done today)? Remember to focus on results and outcomes, not activities and tasks.
  3. Determine the skills and background required to perform those roles well. Are the skills and expertise different from what is currently required?
  4. Identify key performers in the organization and assess their capabilities for the best fit. You want to find the right fit for these key performers to challenge them enough to stay engaged where they can learn and have a positive impact.
  5. Develop a plan for those key roles. This includes assessing the current people in the role and looking at potential candidates for the role (including your key performers identified in step #4). Who needs to be involved in the planning? What is the transition plan? What is the timing for transition?
  6. Be open and transparent in communicating the selection process, the criteria and the time line for those critical roles. Everyone in the company should have advanced notice of when a new leader will be taking over and what the transition will look like.
  7. Know the future vision and direction of the company. This will help with the selection process so you can match the leaders' skill sets with the direction of customers and the business.
  8. Begin to decentralize some decision-making. Organizations that give employees the ability to make decisions on their own will be better insulated when someone from the top leaves as there is less reliance on them to make all decisions.

Succession planning is one of the key areas that many organizations need to improve upon. Knowing who the next top managers and executives will be allows you to maintain consistency in the direction of the organization and often makes the leadership transition easier.

On Andrew MilleR


Recent news

The Conference Board of Canada recently released a report card on the health systems in each province. Congratulations to Ontario, BC and Alberta for receiving an 'A.' You can find more details here.

Check out my blog, From Chaos to Order, where I post new articles, provocative ideas and other content regularly.

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My forthcoming book, Why Everything You Know About Operational Excellence is Far From Excellent, is due out early next year.
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© Andrew Miller. All rights reserved. 2013.