Learning to Think Strategically
Strategic thinking is a powerful skill that clinic managers and supervisors can use in creating clinic or program plans designed to meet future goals and effectively use available resources. In the past, formulating strategy has been reserved for senior managers and policy makers of large organizations. However, family planning programs ultimately succeed or fail where contact with clients occurs; so strategic thinking at the clinic and community level is absolutely essential.
The clinic manager's time is usually consumed with the critical activities of daily operations: giving staff assignments, responding to requests from the central office, assuring that supplies are ordered, scheduling staff time, and handling the emergency of the day. With so much attention on immediate needs, it is easy for The Manager to develop an internal focus and lose sight of the big questions: "Why are we here?" "Is my program doing the right things?" and "What other services should we be providing?"
This issue of The Family Planning Manager explains how clinic managers and their staff can learn to use strategic thinking skills. It discusses the strategic issues of improving quality, expanding access, and increasing demand; shows managers how to address these issues by asking pertinent questions and getting appropriate information; and explains how to use the answers to make difficult choices about what to do and how to do it to ensure program success.