Is Strategic Planning Getting Adequate Attention in Hospital Boards?

By Paul H. Keckley, Ph.D.

As strategic planning becomes a more intense focus for hospital boards, lessons from publicly traded companies may be instructive.

In the 2017-2018 Public Company Governance Survey conducted by the National Association of Corporate Directors (, 600 directors of publicly traded companies were asked what they consider the board’s priorities on behalf of the organizations they serve.

Their top five were:

  1. Meaningful contribution in the development and monitoring of the company’s strategy (71%).
  2. Oversight of risk management activity (58%).
  3. Improvements in the board’s operational effectiveness to optimize its use of time and encourage more rigor in decision-making procedures (58%).
  4. Enhancement of the board’s culture to enable candid discussion and meaningful deliberation (58%).
  5. Meaningful consideration and methodical approaches to CEO succession plans (58%).

This list reflects growing board recognition that the stakes are high for their work. And at the top of the list for the second year is increased participation in the company’s strategic planning. The researchers explained:

“Many boards still struggle to move from a traditional review and concur approach to deep and continual engagement with strategy. One obstacle to more robust board engagement with strategy may simply be insufficient time allocation. Fifty-one percent of respondents indicate that the lack of adequate time during board meetings for in-depth strategy discussions is an important barrier to effective strategy engagement, up from forty-four percent last year.” (Friso van der Oord, “Public Company Board Priorities for 2018,” NACD Directorship Board Intelligence [Jan. - Feb. 2018]: 28-29.)

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