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Corporate Agility

I recently read a book entitled Corporate Agility (Grantham et al, 2007 AMACOM). And although initially I thought it was just applicable to large corporations, I realized that in fact it could be very useful for the typical medical practice. It describes a process known as collaborative strategic management (CSM). This is a strategic approach to management that incorporates three main areas: human resources (HR), information technology (IT) and corporate real estate (CRT).

The main principle of CSM is that, although these three areas may seem completely distinct, they need to be thought of as interdependent. Most of us are familiar with the terms HR and IT, but what does corporate real estate mean?

Well, it refers to the efficient use of workspace. This comprises everything from how many square feet a business needs to energy efficiency to the actual interior design that is utilized within a building. And the best use of the workspace depends of course on how many employees there are. And although the IT part may not be real obvious for most medical practices today, as we all move towards EMR, this too will dictate how staff and space are utilized.

The other main concept discussed is the three major challenges that businesses will face in the future: reducing fixed operating costs, confronting the coming talent shortage, and institutionalizing innovation. We are all keenly aware of trying to reduce our expenses, particularly in these times of decreasing reimbursements. In the future, businesses will try to squeeze as much efficiency as possible, both from their staff and from their physical plant. Large companies such as Wal-Mart are already setting goals for many of their stores to become more energy self-sufficient.

The issues of talent shortage include an aging population and the fact that the mindset of the employee is changing. People are not necessarily looking for a nine-to-five job. Businesses in the future, including medical practices, may have to offer more flexible employment opportunities – not just for work schedules, but perhaps also for the work environment. Perhaps phone calls will be triaged by employees working from home.

The last challenge of institutionalizing innovation seems less appropriate to the practice of medicine. However, gone are the days when a physician didn’t need to know what overhead meant. And for a practice to survive in the future it will need to be quick on its feet and apply the best practices from other industries-this is the essence of innovation.


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  1. Peter

    I have been trying to get my partners to think exactly along those lines. It seems that decisions are always made without considering their impact on the rest of the practice. Thanks for the recommendation – I will check out the book.


  2. Joe

    Thanks for the comment – and sorry for not replying sooner.

    Yes, medical practices, even smaller ones, will increasingly need to think more like a business – and this includes looking at things in ways which physicians are not accustomed to (ok, is that grammatically correct?)


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