In order to understand what planning at a strategic level is, it leads us to try to understand what the characteristics are that make it up.
In this way, the first characteristic we must understand is the holistic vision. In order to try to plan successfully at the strategic level, we must try to develop a holistic vision of the whole, where each of the components, units, etc. is a function of the whole. Understanding this functional mechanism is key, as it will allow us to make a better and more precise analysis of the situation, and thus achieve the prioritisation of the activities that need to be developed.
Another feature we should pay attention to is the long-term vision. We are usually biased towards looking only at the short term, thinking that in the long term there are too many variables and uncertainties that prevent us from planning. However, in order to plan at a strategic level, the ability to develop a long-term view will be fundamental, since this is where the specific objectives that we will need to achieve the main objective pursued by the organization will have to be established. If we think we have a problem in one of our nursing units, or even in the hospital, we must analyse all the causes, ignoring the idea that there is only one cause for the problem, but that the problem is the sum of all the causes, so that the solution will be the sum of the solutions to each of the causes.
Another characteristic to consider is that only through planning and carrying out the programmed activities will it be possible to achieve objectives of greater impact and importance, and that these are sustainable in the long term.
Planning makes it possible to consolidate the organisation and direct it towards higher objectives beyond those previously established in the short term, although looking at the long term needs to be considered in the short term, in terms of short-term objectives, as a way of achieving those established for the long term.
Only through strategic planning will it be possible to develop and undertake the path that leads to the organization’s vision, that is, what we want the organization to be in the long term.
Strategic planning also acts as the mortar that will allow us to link up with the context. This feature is extremely important if we understand that the main part of the health context is the population and the users of the system.
Any planning process has a part to play in evaluating and monitoring the changes implemented. This is why it is so important that planning is also carried out at a strategic level, as this is the only way we can follow the process, evaluate it and check the consequences of the changes that are introduced.
In strategic planning, it is also possible to observe other characteristics such as
The ability to bring coherence, at all levels of an organization, including all its members. All resources need to be aligned and relevant in order to develop the strategic plan.
In addition to coherence, everything has to be relevant, which means that it has to be developed in line with the objectives and goals that the organization wants to achieve.
Strategic planning is a systematic process. By maintaining this way of acting, all levels of the organization and each of its parts will be well engaged through the plans. Only in this way will the contributions of the activities make sense to achieve the objectives.