When You Go to Iceland, Don’t Rent a Moped: Lessons for the Patient Advocacy Community

My husband and I recently vacationed in Iceland. We are planners, so before we left we bought guide books. We talked to friends who have traveled there. We checked reviews and online sites. We had an agenda and were anxious to rent a car and begin our adventure. What we quickly discovered, however, was that much of the landscape was treacherous. While we could explore some of the sites on our own, if we really wanted to experience all that the country has to offer, we needed a guide and a super jeep.

Doing our homework helped us to understand the terrain and make decisions that enhanced our experience, kept us safe, and advanced our goal of embarking on a real adventure. Not rocket science. It makes perfect sense; you are travelling to a new destination, so you learn as much as possible in advance to prepare for what is in store.

So why is it that so many organizations, ranging from non-profits to industry, craft detailed strategies to advance organizational priorities without investing the time to understand the landscape and the terrain they must navigate to achieve their goals?

The same principles I applied to prepare for my vacation apply to organizations seeking to advance priorities and to make an impact. At HCM, we have helped organizations understand their landscape, recognize gaps that present opportunities for engagement, and determine the most effective tools and strategies to employ to advance their goals. This process takes a bit of time, a lot of research and analysis and an open mind. But it works.

We have had success working with a variety of organizations utilizing tools such as policy and asset mapping and gap and SWOT analyses. Our team has helped organizations understand:

  • What key stakeholders in their community are prioritizing and how they are advancing those priorities;
  • Where there is alignment between the organization and other stakeholders that represent opportunities for collaboration;
  • Where there are gaps in activity that represent opportunities for leadership;
  • What differentiates the organization from others in the community.

There are other firms and consultants that employ similar tools, so what sets HCM apart? It is our ability to support the tools listed above with a detailed and comprehensive understanding of the client’s community. Our investment in designing and facilitating a process where organizational leadership is invested and engaged in the process. And our ability to align key findings from this research with a client’s mission to suggest unique partnerships and collaborations and to define compelling value propositions for potential collaborators.

You would never think to build a house without hiring an architect with a detailed blueprint. Or set out on a long hike without a trail map. These plans and maps are created through careful measurements, analysis, calculations and research. We take a similar approach in working with organizations.

Focus on the journey and not the destination. We have all heard that before. While that may be true in life, if you are leading an organization looking to impact change, it’s all about reaching your destination as quickly as possible. The more that organizations understand the terrain and the challenges and opportunities that lie in their path towards their destination, the faster they will arrive. And true change agents are focused on the destination as well as the speed at which you can get there.


by Ronnie Tepp | Principal on Health

Originally published at hcmstrategists.com on February 18, 2015.