American College Of Surgeons - Inspiring Quality: Highest Standards, Better Outcomes

Strategic Planning

Strategic planning is a critical component of a successful chapter. The strategic planning process provides an opportunity for the chapter to assess its programs and activities for effectiveness, and plan for any necessary changes to goals and initiatives that will enhance the overall performance of the chapter.

 The first step in the strategic planning process is to set the strategic direction by developing the mission and vision statements for the chapter.

Mission Statement

The mission statement describes the core purpose of the chapter and the indispensable value that chapters provide to its constituents including: Fellows, Associate Fellows, Residents, Medical Students, Affiliates and non-members.

When developing a mission statement, chapters should:

  1. Identify the chapter’s primary constituents – who does the chapter benefit/serve?
  2. Evaluate the core values that the chapter provides to its constituents now and in the future.
  3. Determine what unique value the chapter provides in comparison to competitors.
  4. Define the core purpose or organizing premise of the chapter.

As an example, the mission statement of ACS is

The American College of Surgeons is dedicated to improving the care of the surgical patient and to safeguarding standards of care in an optimal and ethical practice environment.

Vision Statement

The vision statement describes the chapter in a future state, operating in a manner that fulfills the chapter mission at the highest levels of excellence. The chapter vision represents a benchmark for effectiveness to which the chapter aspires.

 When developing the vision statement the chapter should:

  1. Describe the “perfect” organization if it was being designed to fulfill the mission of the chapter.
  2. Visualize what the chapter should look like in regards to member make-up and activity when operating at peak performance.
  3. Decide how the chapter should be viewed by its constituents.

Once the mission and vision have been established, a typical strategic process then progresses through four key processes:

  1. Environmental Scan
  2. Strategy Formulation
  3. Strategy Implementation
  4. Strategy Evaluation

Environmental Scan

This process includes an evaluation of the positive and negative trends, and the issues that impact the fulfillment of the mission of the chapter. This may include completion of a SWOT analysis, which allows the chapter to evaluate the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats facing the chapter as it aspires to meet its mission.

It is important to evaluate both the internal (i.e. chapter volunteers, chapter staff) and external (i.e. competition from other societies) environments in these discussions as both can play a significant role in fulfillment of the chapter mission.

Strategy Formulation

Based on the environmental scan the chapter will have the information necessary to start formulating its strategy. The identification of chapter strengths allows for the chapter to capitalize on identified opportunities while weaknesses can be addressed so that they do not threaten the chapter on an ongoing basis

As the chapter begins developing specific goals it is essential that they be clear, concise and measurable. Examples include:

  1. Increase chapter membership by 3% by December 31, 2017.
  2. Increase attendance at the 2017 annual meeting by 2% over 2016 attendance.

The chapter should consider goals that are both short and long term. While it can be tempting to look only at short terms goals that are relevant for the coming year, it is important to look further into the future (2-3 years) to make sure that the chapter is addressing big picture issues that are important to the chapter mission (i.e. sustaining financial viability, membership recruitment and retention).

Strategy Implementation

By developing goals that are clear, concise, and measurable, it allows for these goals to be put into action. The essential components of the implementation process include assigning accountability (to individuals and/or specific committees) and designating resources (financial, staff).

Since achievement of these goals may be dependent on the work of volunteers who were not involved in the strategic planning process, it is essential to communicate the strategy. Once everyone is on board with the strategy it allows for the effective identification and assignment of tasks that contribute to success.

Strategy Evaluation

The final step in the strategic planning process is to evaluate the chapter’s performance toward achieving its goals. By establishing a plan for regular status reviews it keeps everyone informed of, and accountable for, progress and allows for identification of areas that may need adjustment. It is likely that some goals may need adjustment from the original plan due to a change in the environment or other factors so the chapter may want to revisit previous steps of the strategic planning process to re-evaluate certain goals. See Appendix A for a planning template.