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There are three levels of strategy which are corporate, divisional and functional (Freel, nd.). The corporate strategy is very broad and acts as an umbrella for the other two strategies (Freel, nd.). It also involves the mission, vision and value statements (Freel, nd.). All of these strategy levels must be aligned for organizational success, which is why the communication of the mission statement by top executives is so important. For the purpose of this paper mission statements and their importance to organizational success, Nebraska Medicine’s current mission and value statement will be analyzed and determine whether it requires any changes, and if so, which changes will be discussed.
Dr. Freel says there are three levels of strategy which are corporate, divisional and functional (Freel, nd). The corporate strategy is very broad and acts as an umbrella for the other two strategies (Freel, nd). It also involves the mission, vision and value statements (Freel, nd). The divisional strategy level includes areas such as subdivisions, departments (such as oncology or neurology) or satellite hospitals (Freel, nd) Functional strategy level is most visible in areas that support the organization such as billing, human resources, and information technology (Freel, nd). All of these strategic areas need to be aligned and congruent in order for a strategic plan to be effective and ensure that the desired outcomes for the organization are met (Freel, nd). If any one of these areas fall out of line with the rest, the organization may find difficulty maintaining positive outcomes, continue innovating or experience improvement in their market share or position (Freel, nd). This is where communication of the mission is vital to the success of the organization. For the purpose of this paper mission statements and their importance to organizational success, Nebraska Medicine’s current mission and value statement will be analyzed and determine whether it requires any changes, and if so, which changes will be discussed.
Mission and Vision Statements
According to McDonald & Sarfraz (2015), mission, vision and value statements have been a part of corporate management tools for about forty years. Moreover, there are four major benefits of mission and vision statements that include providing direction and purpose to the organization, properly focused resource utilization, more effective communication with stakeholders both internally and externally, and finally guiding and inspiring members of the organization (Desmidt, Prinzie & Decramer, 2011). However, if a mission statement is poorly created and communicated there can be negative effects from the top down (McDonald & Sarfraz, 2015). Mission and vision statements have remained popular for organizations because they offer a promise to the public and a focus for the organization’s goals and activities that aim to fulfill the promises (Harris, 2018). Failure to articulate the mission and vision clear and articulately can hinder the strategic goals among all departments and the future of the organization as a whole (Harris, 2018).
There are three components and functions to a vision statement which is to educate, motivate and coordinate and when all of these are effectively put into place, employees can reference it for guidance for organizational expectations (Harris, 2018). Essentially, it should offer answers to why the organization exists and what the future direction is (Harris, 2018). However, many organizations cannot clearly articulate these answers and they are consequently written to vague or are miscommunicated which tends to result in less than optimal realization of organizational goals (Harris, 2018). Vision statements must be written in a way that inspires others, shows what the organization aspires to do and can be measured (Harris, 2018). If written well, it should include an indicator of success, a defined niche as well as a timeline of expected strategic outcome (Harris, 2018).
Nebraska Medicine’s Mission, Vision and Values
Nebraska Medicine exhibits their mission, vision and values statements on the leadership page of their Intranet site at the workplace. The values are also posted in every unit to remind staff of why they work in the organization. The mission statement says, “Our mission is to lead the world in transforming lives to create a healthy future for all individuals and communities through premier educational programs, innovative research and extraordinary patient care, “ (Nebraska Medicine, nd). Harris (2018) says that an effective mission statement can be brief, but should be able to be clearly communicated to all stakeholders internally and externally as to why the place exists as well as what it intends to achieve. However, these statements should be timeless regardless of any changes the organization may undergo and if any changes are to be made to it, they should start with the existing statement (Harris, 2018). Looking at this statement, It appears to be brief, generalized, but adequately says why the organization exists and how it plans to set out its mission. Therefore, it has met the goal as outlined.
The values for the organization are the ITEACH principles. The acronym stands for the following I= Innovation, T= Teamwork, E= Excellence, A= Accountability, C= Courage, and H= Healing (Nebraska Medicine, nd). It clearly states that these principles “reflect who we are and how we behave” (Nebraska Medicine, nd). Each acronym specifically outlines the expectation for each one, for example, for Innovation it says to “search for a better way. Seek and implement ideas and approaches that can change the way the world discovers, teaches and heals as well as drive transformational change (Nebraska Medicine, nd). While this can be a little vague, it is inspirational and allows some employees the ability to interpret innovation in their own way. The same can be said for the other principles. However, it does outline, probably better than other organizations, the expected behavior of employees if the organization is to reach their mission. Harris (2018) says that vision statements should inspire workers, give something for everyone in the organization to aspire to be but also offer measurables to show it is working.
Nebraska Medicine has outlined its strategic goals for the years 2019-2023 and the organization lists several measurable goals such as “be acknowledged as a top decile academic health system for safety and quality, be the comprehensive provider of care for 400,000 people in the served communities, and be the essential provider of complex, high acuity care for 3 million residents in the region” (Nebraska Medicine, nd). Some other strategic goals include being the “destination of choice for complex clinical care, that the organization will create an experience that stakeholders will rate in the top decile of peer health systems, and that the organization will achieve financial performance which supports a thriving clinical and academic enterprise” (Nebraska Medicine, nd). These goals can be measured in ways of patient satisfaction scores from patient surveys, their success compared to their competitors, quality ratings from sources such as U.S News and the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems Surveys (HCAHPs), as well as their own financial information.
Two of the most common reasons that some organizations require revision is that the mission and vision is too wordy and unclear to the reader or they no longer reflect the strategic changes that the organization wishes to pursue (Harris, 2018). The statements that Nebraska Medicine has made thus far seems to be working for the organization as its closest competitor in the region (Catholic Health Initiatives) has succumbed to financial struggles in recent years and Creighton Hospital has closed its doors, which has left Nebraska Medicine as the only level 1 trauma center.
The mission statement has been timeless for the organization as it continues to do what it has done for years since it opened in the 1800’s which is innovate, create, educate and learn. It also inspires those that work within the walls and gives other organizations something to aspire to, so it doesn’t need changed. The values under ITEACH are a little wordy and can be time consuming to read for the busy employee. It is understandable that they included the information underneath each principle to further clarify what they mean, but when time is an issue for busy healthcare workers, they may not take the time to read it. If changes needed to be made in the values statement, removing the added verbiage would be acceptable just to keep it short and simple. A corporate level strategy of keeping these statements placed in strategic areas of each unit, work area, Intranet and included in every broadcasted speech by upper management or displayed in organizational education is essential to communicating the mission and values and keeping all strategic levels on par with each other to meet organizational objectives. The strategic goals were very well explicitly outlined with measurable objectives and focus not only on financial performance, but quality, the consumer perspective and the employee perspective and does not require additional changes.
The second stage of the strategic plan is to develop an effective mission statement that accurately and effectively communicates what the organization is doing and why. In addition, it should communicate expected behaviors of employees to reach those goals and offer measurable ways to determine if those goals are reached. Upon review of Nebraska Medicine’s mission and vision statements, it is evident that they met the requirements of keeping the mission statement concise, inspirational and aspirational. The vision clearly communicates the required behavior of stakeholders to meet goals, though if changes were necessary it may be to remove the extra small print explanation below each principle to keep it more simple and easy to read. Strategic goals are effectively outlined with definite methods to measure whether goals are met (via methods such as rankings, financial status, competitor status, etc). Above all, the most important way to ensure that these statements are effective is to communicate it to every strategic level effectively so that all areas work cohesively toward the goal, otherwise success may not be realized. This has largely been avoided at Nebraska Medicine because their mission and values are displayed on various media whether electronic or paper throughout every level of the organization and it is verbalized everyday throughout the day. This is believed to be why the organization remains highly reputable for patient care.
- Desmidt, S., Prinzie, A., & Decramer, A. (2011). Looking for the value of mission statements: A meta-analysis of 20 years of research. Management Decision, 49(3), 468-483.
- Freel, M. (nd). Levels of strategy. Retrieved January 26, 2019 from https://bellevue.mediaspace.kaltura.com/media/Three+Levels+of+Strategy/0_yxd2rctf.
- Harris, J. M. (2018). Healthcare Strategic Planning (4th ed.). Chapter 7. Health Administration Press.
- McDonald, A., & Sarfraz, A. (2015). Failing hospitals: Mission statements to drive service improvement? Leadership in Health Services, 28(2), 77-82.
- .Nebraska Medicine. (nd). Leadership. Retrieved January 20, 2019 from http://now.nebraskamed.com/leadership/.
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