Strategic Planning as a Foundational Tool for Leadership

Strategic Planning as a Foundational Tool for Leadership Development


The Challenge

This week the Pennsylvania Organization of Nurse Leaders (PONL) invited Jackie Collavo, MA, BSN, RN, NE-BC of West Penn Hospital in Allegheny Health Network and Kirby Bates’ Pamela DeCampli, MSN, RN, NEA-BC to present their case study on the process and benefits of Strategic Planning for Nursing Departments.


The seven-hospital health system was grappling with challenges related to:

  • dependable performance outcomes across multiple entities
  • establishing system-ness
  • achieving high reliability

Like many organizations, the root cause was traced to recognized gaps in consistent departmental visioning and the development of leadership contextual goals. As operational goals and subsequent objectives were coalesced, the need for leadership teaming was clearly acknowledged.

The Strategy


In order to objectively tackle the need for the development of a solid departmental strategic plan to be used in guiding a complex entity in achieving SMARTER goals, Appreciative Inquiry (AI) and the use of SOAR (Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, and Results) techniques were employed. The use of positivism, as outlined in AI theory and applicable to the strategic planning process, supports creative thinking and the identification of aspirations that can be held constant by the leadership team.

The Results


A sustainable Nursing Strategic Plan that supported the goals of the System while ensuring the uniqueness of nursing as a key clinical driver related to patient-centered care and quality outcomes resulted.

Additionally, remarkable gains in quality indicators were evidenced, including:

  • 365+ days without CLABSI in ICU @ WPH
  • 10% reduction in overall HAI
  • 10% reduction in medication errors

The executive leadership team came together over the course of the journey as a strong decision-making entity, driven by aspirations of, and the vision for, a highly performing team. The achievement of consistency in identifying and communicating departmental goals is currently driving this health system’s seven hospitals in one unified direction capable of measuring sustainable progress and course correcting along the journey.

Download the Educational Poster here.