Essays June 2013

Not Necessarily Mission Impossible

Anton Hart


Astronaut Buzz Aldrin has a vision: a permanent human settlement on Mars in the next 25 years. A vision like this should conjure up images in your mind and stir your imagination – even if only a little. Mr. Aldrin has written a book that sets out a comprehensive strategy to make his vision happen. To make it happen is the mission. Healthcare can learn from Mr. Aldrin.

Healthcare is now the holy grail of services provided to humankind. Hospitals (together with mosques) are the new cathedrals of today. Your communities deserve to know what you do. Well-written and clearly communicated plans can draw in populations that believe in you. They will support you.

Give your community the opportunity to know you. What is your vision, your mission and your role in delivering the services it needs and deserves? As you reflect, ask yourself: “How clear is our vision?” Look at it from the perspective of your audience. How alluring is it to them? When you have something -- communicate it.

Many healthcare organizations visit and re-visit this question. One example is Bridgepoint – a complex care organization in Toronto’s Riverdale that serves a much larger community extending across Ontario and Canada. From Bridgepoint’s website I learn that “Bridgepoint Active Healthcare is made up of the Bridgepoint Hospital, Bridgepoint Family Health Team, Bridgepoint Collaboratory for Research and Innovation and Bridgepoint Foundation.”

As Bridgepoint’s board was physically rebuilding its infrastructure over the last decade, they also revisited their vision and mission.

Ultimately, they approved the tag line “Active Healthcare.” It is now emblazoned on everything Bridgepoint touches.

Going a little deeper, it adds: “Active Healthcare manages, delivers, researches and teaches leading healthcare practices so that people with complex health conditions can live better.” That’s the vision.

Here’s the mission: “… where patients, providers, doctors, families and communities alike play an active role in creating, delivering and managing one coherent healthcare plan so that” (and again, here’s the vision) “people living with complex health conditions can enjoy life to its fullest potential.” 

The tag line distils the vision to a memorable two words: “Active Healthcare.” 

I have no idea of the deliberations that preceded and produced this clarity of thinking. One of Bridgepoint’s governors did share with me that “we have worked hard to accomplish this.”  I think we should all step back and learn from Bridgepoint.

Here is one suggestion: Academics and their students spend a lot of time on missions and visions. They "get it."  Case studies are their best teaching and learning tools.Visit your local business school and get the students and their mentors involved. You will get both rigour and creativity.

Roger Martin, Dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, has this advice for organizations seeking to translate their vision/mission into a strategy: “… think a little bit about Aspirations & Goals, then a little bit about Where to Play and How to Win, then back to Aspirations & Goals to check and modify, then down to Capabilities and Management Systems to check whether it is really doable, then back up again to modify accordingly.” Well, that sounds simple. Fortunately Mr. Martin is a clear thinker and writer. Here is an essay of his that one of his adherents calls “a very useful example of writing … with quality over quantity”:  Five Questions to Build a Strategy

About the Author

Anton Hart is the publisher at



Anton Hart wrote:

Posted 2013/06/18 at 04:42 PM EDT

If strategic planning is on your agenda, more plans can be found here:
PHSA Strategic Plan (PDF)
BC Cancer Agency Strategic Plan (PDF)
BC Centre for Disease Control Strategic Plan (PDF)
BC Children's Hospital Strategic Plan (PDF)
BC Mental Health and Addiction Services (PDF)
BC Renal Agency (PDF)
BC Transplant Society (PDF)
BC Women's Hospital & Health Centre Strategic Plan (PDF)
PHSA Cardiac Services Strategic Plan (PDF)


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