Creating a winning strategy for the largest health care system in the Dallas/Fort Worth area may seem like a daunting task. But Aaron Bujnowski, Senior Vice President of Strategy and Planning for Texas Health Resources feels that striving to provide the best quality care for patients gives his work deep meaning. “If we decide to build a new hospital, maybe in the long run, someone’s child or grandchild will be helped because of that decision,” he said. Bujnowski spoke recently to a group of University of Dallas business students about the role of strategic planning in a large corporation.
Bujnowski told students that the key to strategic planning is to get the best return on limited resources. “You don’t need a strategy if you have unlimited resources,” he said. “But if your resources are limited, you have to make tactical choices to set the direction of the company. It’s hard to say no, but limited resources require that you must.”
According to Bujnowski, companies must understand that there is an important distinction between goals and strategy. “Vision statements and goals are aspirations,” he said. “But a good strategy is a clear definition of the choices required to achieve those goals.”
Perhaps the primary job of a strategic planner, Bujnowski said, is insight–insight into customer habits, analytics, market forces, and how current trends could possibly lead to disruption in the marketplace. “Strategy is always looking to see what’s coming down the road,” he said. As an example, Bujnowski described how Kodak did not see the disruption that cell phone cameras would have on its core camera business until it was too late for them to become a force in the market. “Disruption happens,” he said. “And strategists are constantly looking for ways in which things like new technology can cause that disruption.”
Bujnowski said that Texas Health Resources is paying close attention to how healthcare is changing in order to stay ahead of the innovation curve. “Consumerism is an important force in health care now,” he said. “Since people are paying more out of pocket of their healthcare costs, they expect a certain level of customer service to go along with that, a level that’s not been traditionally associated with healthcare.” According to Bujnowski, companies like Texas Health Resources are adopting strategies that focus on customer satisfaction, with features like online scheduling and app-based wait-time calculators to decrease time spent in the actual health clinic.
Starting a career in strategic planning often means going to work for a large consultancy firm and then specializing in a particular business sector. This can lead, then, to an in-house strategy position at a firm within that sector. “Good consultants look for patterns,” Bujnowski said. “They also look for anomalies, analogies, and compromises. But the best consultants can figure out how to break those compromises and get the maximum result.”
The University of Dallas Executives on Campus program was founded to further the University’s mission of providing practice-based education by inviting successful business leaders to share their experience with graduate and undergraduate students in the classroom. Through this program, alumni, business leaders, and their companies are invited to partner with the University in our shared pursuit of management excellence.
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