The National Centre for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) is a healthcare organization that focuses on researching how various medical products, practices and approaches are applied. Since the agency deals with the concept of integrative health, it is evident that it requires appropriate guidance to regulate and improve its performance with such a sensitive issue. The NCCIH (2016) Strategic Plan demonstrates that the organization sets essential goals governing its development. They include advancing fundamental science, improving care for hard-to-manage symptoms, fostering health promotion, enhancing the research workforce and disseminating evidence-based information (NCCIH, 2016, p. 3). These are significant tasks, meaning that the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) should draw sufficient attention to ensuring that these objectives are efficiently implemented. Thus, the given report is helpful for the CEO to understand what concepts, tools and techniques are useful in implementing the strategic plan and what challenges can arise.
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This guidance document will have clear headings and follow a specific structure to make it easy to follow the reasoning. The paper will consist of three large sections that are Implementing the Strategy, Measuring the Success as well as Reflecting and Revisiting the Strategy. Regarding the Implementing the Strategy section, it will include five subheadings that will correspond to five directional strategies from the NCCIH plan. Each of them will offer strategic thinking, planning and momentum issues that will be helpful for the CEO to understand why a particular tool, concept or technique has been chosen. Furthermore, this detailed explanation will reveal what potential advantages and challenges will emerge from using this implementation approach. Thus, the guidance document will present a few solutions, including the SWOT Analysis, Program Evaluation and Value Chain. Upon reading this report, the CEO will have exhaustive information regarding how the NCCIH can effectively implement its strategic plan, what challenges can arise and how to measure and revisit the strategy.
Implementing the Strategy
Advancing Fundamental Science
The first objective focuses on enhancing the understanding of probiotics and prebiotic effects as well as developing new research methods. According to Ginter, Duncan and Swayne (2018, p. 14), external orientation and considering the future are significant components of strategic thinking, and these behaviors can be applied to the goal under consideration. It is so because improving knowledge and scientific approaches will mean that the agency will strengthen its market share. In turn, this goal can be considered an organizational focus that is a part of strategic planning (Ginter, Duncan and Swayne, 2018, p. 17). That is why the following step is to take specific actions, meaning that strategic momentum appears.
An appropriate tool is necessary to implement the directional strategic goal under analysis. The SWOT analysis can be considered a suitable option in this case. According to Whittington et al. (2019, p. 112), this approach summarises the organization’s external and internal analyses to highlight the existing pros and cons in each of them. Figure 1 by Ginter, Duncan and Swayne (2018, p. 264) depicts that the SWOT analysis is the list of the identified issues. This tool will be helpful for a strategic manager because it will demonstrate whether the organization has sufficient resources and whether it is going to face competition in achieving the objective.
Furthermore, it is worth considering that the use of this approach implies some challenges. Gürel and Tat (2017, p. 1004) state that “listing strengths on paper is prone to bias and is very different from testing the organization and experiencing the strengths at work.” It denotes that SWOT analysis can make a strategic manager either overestimate internal strength or underestimate external threats, which will make it challenging to achieve the goal. Thus, the CEO should understand that this implementation tool can imply essential issues.
Improving Care for Hard-to-Manage Symptoms
This objective refers to the fact that the NCCIH deals with essential health issues. Hard-to-manage symptoms include pain, sleep difficulties and others, and complementary medicine tries to find solutions to mitigate them. A needs/capacity assessment that is a part of the program evaluation method is helpful when it comes to implementing this goal. It is so because this approach considers a community’s need in determining what strategic decisions are required (Ginter, Duncan and Swayne, 2018, p. 283). Furthermore, it reveals whether the organization has a sufficient capacity, including financial and organizational resources, to meet this need. As for the current state, numerous citizens require assistance in managing pain and other conditions, meaning that there is significant reasoning behind implementing the strategy. That is why the needs/capacity assessment will allow a strategic manager to make sure that there is a balance between these two phenomena.
It is necessary to mention that the given implementation process can provide a strategic manager with a significant challenge. It relates to the fact that sufficient attention should be drawn to learning organization since the objective focuses on developing the complementary health approaches and conducting studies in real-world settings (NCCIH, 2016, pp. 20-21). Even though learning organization is becoming more popular every year, this concept is still underrepresented in health care (Aknif et al., 2017, p. 1). That is why it can be challenging for a strategic manager to establish this concept and promote learning activities within an organization. One should also mention that the learning organization is considered a competitive advantage in the modern world (Aknif et al., 2017, p. 1). It denotes that addressing the current challenges can lead to achieving additional benefits.
Fostering Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
The third objective is also of significance since it deals with the public health concept. This goal consists of a few smaller tasks that focus on appropriate research activities to promote healthy behaviors. They include investigating how complementary medicine can cope with this promotion, studying the existing approaches and considering research opportunities (NCCIH, 2016, pp. 23-26). Strategic thinking activities reveal that an adequate implementation approach is necessary.
One can suppose that the strategic position and action evaluation (SPACE) tool is useful. According to Ginter, Duncan and Swayne (2018, p. 277), this tool implies four directions, including environmental stability, service category or industry strength, competitive advantage and financial strength. Figure 2 by Borocki, Radišić and Štefanić (2018, p. 405) depicts a SPACE infographic. All these four directions offer essential information when it comes to implementing the goal under analysis. It is so because they consider market demand, resource utilization, product quality, capital required and others (Ginter, Duncan and Swayne, 2018, pp. 278-279). Furthermore, Borocki, Radišić and Štefanić (2018, p. 405) admit that this implementation method provides a manager with sufficient data to think and act strategically. The following paragraph will comment on possible challenges that can arise during this process.
On the one hand, fostering health promotion and disease prevention means that the organization will invest in its value chain. Thus, potential issues refer to market research to determine whether achieving this goal is necessary for the market and promotion activities (Ginter, Duncan and Swayne, 2018, p. 315). It denotes that this directional strategy can be successfully implemented if an organization manages to analyze its internal and external conditions adequately. This fact will suggest that a strategic manager will have an opportunity to find a space for improvement and locate measures on how to cope with the task under consideration.
Enhancing Health Research Workforce
This directional strategy focuses on NCCIH employees because they are one of the most significant assets of the Centre. This objective involves two directions, and they are supporting training and career development opportunities and fostering interdisciplinary collaborations (NCCIH, 2016, pp. 27-28). The SWOT analysis can also be useful in implementing this strategy. It is so because it focuses on numerous internal factors, including employees’ experience, skills and qualifications (Setiawannie and Rahmania, 2019, p. 80). It denotes that a strategic manager should be mindful of this tool when implementing the strategy. The SWOT analysis reveals whether enhancing the health research workforce is relevant for the organization. In other words, this approach provides the manager with precious information regarding the current state of an establishment and whether any improvements can be made.
However, strategic managers should be aware of potential challenges that represent many possible cross-cutting themes. Leadership is the first topic to explore in this case because this concept is “the process of influencing an organization (or group within an organization) in its efforts towards achieving an aim” (Whittington et al., 2019, p. 466). This claim means that the presence of leadership skills and their quality among top managers significantly influences whether the goal will be reached. Thus, it is reasonable to ensure that top managers are capable of leading their subordinates prior to implementing the strategy. Skill development and talent management are other challenges to the implementation process. It is so because the goal can be successfully achieved when employees master specific competency, which depends on their capabilities and background. Ginter, Duncan and Swayne (2018, p. 397) mention that various strategies require different talents. Thus, a possible threat refers to the fact that the implementation process will face essential difficulties because employees do not have the necessary skills and talents.
Disseminating Evidence-Based Information
The fifth element of the NCCIH directional strategy focuses on distributing evidence-based information among the public, researchers and healthcare providers. Simultaneously, the organization attempts to improve the public understanding of basic scientific concepts (NCCIH, 2016, p. 30). Since the task is of importance, an appropriate implementation strategy is required. In this case, it is reasonable to rely on the program evaluation component which is a needs/capacity assessment. It is so because successfully implementing this objective implies that there should be a two-sided relationship. On the one hand, this approach helps identify whether the community and healthcare industry have a particular need to obtain data (Ginter, Duncan and Swayne, 2018, p. 283). On the other hand, the capacity assessment is required to identify whether the organization is going to offer high-quality information. In other words, the proposed tool helps match the community’s needs and the data provided by the NCCIH.
This process can imply various challenges, and communication is among them. It means that even if the organization is going to disseminate high-quality information that satisfies the identified need, the implementation process may not be successful. It can happen if the organization chooses inadequate ways and methods to distribute their research results and other valuable data. Tripathy et al. (2017, p. 10) analyze external communication issues and mention that the most requested dissemination channels include professional literature, social media, personal blogs and others. They are easily available for healthcare organizations and their stakeholders. These choices also ensure that the evidence-based information will reach numerous population groups, which will contribute to meeting the goal. Thus, this information demonstrates that a strategic manager should draw sufficient attention to the way how the organization is going to disseminate its evidence-based information to minimize the effect of possible inefficiencies.
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Measuring the Strategy Success
This guidance document also offers useful insight into how to measure strategy success. This task is of significance to identify whether strategic decisions lead to beneficial outcomes. According to Whittington et al. (2019, p. 371), the leading success factors include economic performance and organizational effectiveness. On the one hand, they demonstrate how the implementation process affects the organization’s financial abilities. It refers to the fact that implementing directional strategies can bring a significant financial burden, and a strategic manager should be mindful of it. On the other hand, the organizational effectiveness factors relate to whether the strategy brings non-financial benefits. For example, Bahadori et al. (2018, p. 406) argue that these issues are senior management awareness and “maintaining team participation in the strategic planning process.” All these factors demonstrate that measuring strategy success is a challenging task that requires sufficient attention.
It is also reasonable to mention that a few critical challenges can emerge while dealing with this process. Issues with measuring economic performance factors can appear because a strategic manager may not have access to all financial information. Furthermore, a challenge can exist because the current directional strategy consists of five individual goals. Some of them can be advantages, and others can bring economic issues. Thus, it can sometimes be challenging to differentiate between beneficial and loss-producing objectives. organizational effectiveness measurement challenges relate to the necessity to gather objective information regarding senior management and employees’ performance and participation in strategic activities. It is not an easy task because strategic managers can have limited access to these data.
That is why it is reasonable to offer recommendations to address the challenges above. Firstly, a useful approach is to invest in an internal analysis of the organization to be aware of its strengths and weaknesses (Kabeyi, 2019, p. 27). This process helps better assess whether the organization has sufficient financial resources to be prepared for the challenge (Ginter, Duncan and Swayne, 2018, p. 132). Secondly, mitigating the organizational issues is possible with the help of the SAFE criteria. This acronym stands for suitability, acceptability, feasibility and evaluation, and the acceptability component deserves more attention. It is so because it focuses on “whether a strategy meets stakeholders’ expectations” (Whittington et al., 2019, p. 371). Thus, this approach is useful for a strategic manager to identify whether top management and junior employees are engaged in strategic activities to take any necessary actions to improve the situation.
Reflecting on and Revisiting the Strategy
The final task is to comment on how and when to reflect on and revisit the strategy. It is mentioned in the strategic plan that the goals should be achieved by 2020 (NCCIH, 2016, p. 1). However, it does not mean that the strategy does not require any attention between 2016 and 2020. The strategy implementation needs careful supervision approximately once a year because both external and internal conditions alter (Abudi, 2018, para. 1). Thus, managers should keep abreast of any changes, report them and initiate appropriate decisions to ensure that the goals can be met in the background of new environments.
As for the external environment, it is a challenging task to align the strategy to it. Abudi (2018, para. 2) admits that new competitors and market innovations are significant issues that deserve attention. It is so because they can mean that the organization’s strategy includes irrelevant objectives that have already been achieved and introduced to the market. In this case, achieving these goals will not allow the organization to gain a sustainable competitive advantage. This example suggests that managers can only align the strategy with the external environment if they timely notice changes and respond to them.
In conclusion, it is reasonable to comment on when a new strategy should be developed. Jakarasi (2017, para. 5) mentions that a new plan is needed if an organization has managed to achieve all its goals. Furthermore, a completely new strategy should appear if all the previously stated objectives have turned irrelevant for various reasons. In these cases, strategic planning activities are necessary to analyze the internal and external environments to identify new goals and development directions. Thus, this guidance document has presented the most significant information regarding implementing, measuring and revisiting the National Centre for Complementary and Integrative Health strategic plan.
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Aknif, E. et al. (2017) ‘Scoping literature review on the learning organization concept as applied to the health system’, Health Research Policy and Systems, 15, pp. 1-12.
Bahadori, M. et al. (2018) ‘Factors affecting strategic plan implementation using interpretive structural modeling (ISM)’, International Journal of Health Care Quality Assurance, 31(5), pp. 406-414.
Borocki, J., Radišić, M. and Štefanić, I. (2018) ‘SPACE analysis as a tool for internal development factors measurement within companies’, Technical Gazette, 25(Supplement 2), pp. 404-410.
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Jakarasi, S. (2017) When to revisit your strategy. Web.
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National Centre for Complementary and Integrative Health (2016) 2016 strategic plan: exploring the science of complementary and integrative health. Web.
Setiawannie, Y. and Rahmania, T. (2019) ‘Performance measurement of public hospitals through the integration of SWOT and balanced scorecard’, Jurnal Sistem dan Manajemen Industri, 3(2), pp. 76-88.
Tripathy, J. P. et al. (2017) ‘Ten tips to improve the visibility and dissemination of research for policymakers and practitioners’, Public Health Action, 7(1), pp. 10-14.
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