Business Planning for the Long Haul

You all have stepped up to the plate these last couple of weeks! Thanks to Monecia for getting the conversation started, and for all of you who are writing in. Keep it coming!

A lot of you mentioned Negotiation as a session of the MAPH that taught you a lot. Dee Dee Downey wrote about an interesting concept about negotiation: “Leave something on the table.” That is, when you’re negotiating, don’t try for the winner-take-all mentality. We're in this for the long haul: relationships are more important than winning.

Public health business planning is all about the long haul. To be successful and build sustainable programs, we have to be creating on-going relationships with partners, colleagues, local politicians, other organizations, and peers across the country. Not to mention communities of people who use and care about your activities. So besides not humiliating people you are in negotiations with, how can we put “the long haul” into action?

- Make note of those things left on the table. Every time you negotiate for something, write down what you wanted but didn’t get – this time. You might get them next time. Similarly, keep a list of the things your negotiating partner wanted but didn’t get. You just might come across an opportunity where what they want works for you.

- Note what your negotiating partner likes. Say you go to a potential funding partner with an idea for a dental clinic at the health department. They say, “We don’t do dental clinics; we do X.” Don’t waste your time tweaking the dental clinic idea for this partner. But do think about coming back later with an idea for doing X with their help. They’ll be more open to a new idea that fits in with their mission or goals.

- Keep a list of ideas that came up you hadn’t thought of before. They can be part of your next brainstorming session. Remember, long term thinking means there’s always another chance to launch an initiative.

- Always, always, always consider the Exit. We devote a whole chapter in the book to planning for the intentional or unintentional exit (Chapter 11). If you’re planning for the long haul, you know that sometimes over time programs need to change or end. If you plan to spin it off to a partner’s control, you’d better keep that partnership healthy throughout your planning and implementation phases!

We hear about great partnerships among our students and alumni. What examples can you share of partnerships you’re particularly proud of or hopeful about?

Anne Menkens