A touch of strategic indigestion perhaps?

Phrases and sayings tend to come and go with the ebb and flow of fads and fashion, but one that still resonates for me is using some kind of bus analogy to describe those times when you appear to have been waiting ages for something, then a whole bunch of them come along together.

Maybe that’s a measure of a particular phrase or saying’s test of time, in that people can use them without having to have any direct or regular personal experience – I therefore remain an enthusiastic user of the London Bus Phenomenon (or LBP to get into full three letter acronym mode much beloved by strategists) to vent certain frustrations, even though I haven’t lived there for years and don’t regularly use a bus.

I have to say that I have recently been feeling quite LBP, in that after a period of relative calm we now seem to be inundated with buses. I’m not however referring to the apparent madness that seems to have been unleashed with the so called privatisation of local routes, but rather looking to apply the LBP principle to the surfeit of strategies presently being touted around the health and social care arena. It seems that everyone has not only discovered a ready supply of so called strategies, but have, somewhat depressingly, discovered how to drive them at speed down our roads.

Of course, there is much worth in using insight and an informed approach, but the challenge remains to be able to sift through the volume of competing claims on one’s time, while still attempting to maintain some semblance of sanity and coherence. It’s a bit like those organisations that we all know, where everybody seems to spend all day every day earnestly attending meetings, to the extent that one questions how and when any actual work can be being done.

When sense does not appear to be all that common, where do you look for clues as to how to prioritise and focus your time? Well, I would hope that you will have already latched on to some of the stalwart sources where you can access some common sense and factual analysis of the healthcare sector. For me, these include Roy Lilley’s daily epistles, and Private Eye, in particular the MD column.

Likewise, I would hope that you have developed an internal register of organisations and maybe individuals whose outputs and utterances you have learned to let pass by (this space left intentionally blank to insert your own suggestions…)

So, in practical terms, what to do about all those strategies, especially given the propensity of many of those fine sorts who promulgate so-called strategies to rather look down at those of us who toil away in the daily grind of operational reality? How to deal with a general High Church tendency to view anything that is tactical or driven by operational imperatives as being somehow inferior to the artistry embodied in their latest strategic offering?

I would suggest two components to consider including in your pragmatic survival kit:

Firstly, always remember to ask yourself how many of these so called strategies you have ever seen implemented successfully, on time and within budget, in line with the originally articulated business requirement

Secondly, don’t subscribe to the view that the tactical is somehow inferior to the strategic. Both have their place, and in many situations a tactical approach can actually get the right things done, while analysis paralysis besets the strategic intent and debate

For me, the optimum approach is often a blend, so I tend to get unashamedly stractical!

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