Unforeseen challenges and obstacles often bring about reinvigorated passion and determination to move forward to the next chapter. This was the case with the launch of MD Anderson’s new institutional Strategy.
With a virtual event unveiling the Strategy for MD Anderson’s 22,000+ employees on Jan. 28, 2021, MD Anderson took the first steps to realize this bold, inspired plan to align the entire institution around three strategic themes – Reach, Breakthroughs and Value.
Our goal: maximize MD Anderson’s impact on humanity to finally end cancer
“Our Strategy is designed to extend the profound legacy of our predecessors and to build on our collective successes. It is only through the steadfast commitment and resilience of our incredible teams that we were able to finalize our Strategy amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Peter WT Pisters, M.D., president of MD Anderson. “Our 80-year history, our bold mission and the incredible dedication of our extraordinary workforce have perfectly positioned us to realize our greatest aspirations.”
Strategic themes provide a roadmap for the future
Focusing future efforts on three strategic themes, each anchored by a specific aim, enables the institution to formulate mission-linked goals while preparing for future risks.
Reach: Our aim is to make it easier for the patients and communities we serve to access our expertise to ultimately prevent disease and improve health.
Breakthroughs: Our aim is to drive high-impact discovery research focused on unmet medical need and accelerate translation into meaningful improvements in health outcomes to become the No. 1 cancer research organization.
Value: Our aim is to set new standards for high-touch, high-value care.
Each theme involves a series of strategic decisions, 23 in total, that are purposeful in nature and grounded in the same aspirational principle to maximize our impact.
“Our Strategy is our roadmap for the future,” says Chris McKee, senior vice president, Strategy and Business Development. “It reflects our ambitions and also anticipates the dynamic nature of our environment. Amidst a rapidly changing world, we can be certain of one thing: our commitment to end cancer will never change.”
A two-year process to develop our Strategy
The process of defining MD Anderson’s Strategy began in January 2019. Through a collaborative and inclusive approach, teams across the institution embarked on the two-year journey to incorporate feedback about what our future should look like. More than 3,000 employees at all levels and across our prevention, education, research and patient care mission areas contributed to the ideation and brainstorming process.
What became clear was that, regardless of mission area, all MD Anderson teams strive to make the greatest degree of impact on the most people in service of the mission to end cancer. This was something to which all employees could connect, and it became the baseline for developing the new Strategy.
Yet, examining this guiding principle within the context of MD Anderson’s external environment proved crucial to understanding the outside forces and dynamics that could create both opportunities and risks for the institution.
“A changing workplace driven by global and societal forces and centered around the needs of our employees will continue to impact the way we operate now and in the future,” says Shibu Varghese, senior vice president, People, Culture and Infrastructure, and Chief Diversity Officer. “When shaping our Strategy, we considered three important factors that most directly impact our team members: 1. The future of work and our impact on the environment 2. The national focus on diversity, equity and inclusion, and 3. The leadership skills needed to succeed in the future of health care in America.”
Shaped, in part, by the COVID-19 pandemic and the unique challenges and opportunities it brought, MD Anderson’s Strategy underscores the institution’s focus on shifting to a 30% remote or hybrid workforce model. It also demonstrates a commitment to understanding how MD Anderson’s facilities, infrastructure, capital projects and technologies will support our workforce, as well as support those who seek our care, in the immediate future and long-term.
“MD Anderson is well-positioned to manage anticipated changes in the health care environment for many reasons,” McKee says. “We are privileged to be an agency of Texas, and our state’s fast-growing population, increasing diversity and unmatched business-focused economy provide a solid foundation for MD Anderson to thrive.”
Anchored in mission, grounded by core values
As the bedrock of MD Anderson’s unique culture, our mission to end cancer unites all 22,000 employees around a shared goal that drives us to deliver on our promise to our patients and to all those touched by cancer.
For decades, three core values – Caring, Integrity and Discovery – defined who we were as an organization and governed the ways we operated, made decisions and held ourselves accountable. But while developing the new Strategy, MD Anderson conducted inclusive exercises and focus groups with employees to look at how our current values reflect who we are today and how we want to operate in the future.
Based on these reflections and lessons learned from challenges posed by the pandemic and economic headwinds, the institution adopted two additional values – Safety and Stewardship. The once-in-a-century pandemic has reinforced the importance of ensuring the health and safety of our patients and employees above all else. However, the focus on safety does not stop there. MD Anderson is committed to fostering an environment of psychological safety defined by inclusion, respect and a workplace where employees feel empowered to speak up. In the same light, stewardship defines our responsibility to protect our institutional reputation and resources by looking after the well-being of our talent, collaborating to safeguard finances and participating in a collective awareness of how we use the precious time, data and materials afforded to us.
MD Anderson also refreshed the wording of the existing core values to reflect a steadfast commitment to inclusivity and to better describe the breadth of behavior and actions all employees should expect and demonstrate.
“This refresh aligns our Core Values with what I want our institution to be known for,” Pisters says. “Together, along with other important behaviors and actions, these values encourage all of us to continuously set, meet and exceed high standards for ourselves and each other, amplifying our mission to end cancer."
As MD Anderson marks 80 years of Making Cancer History®, all eyes are turned to the future with passionate determination to achieve even more as we move forward.
Teams will continue to focus on realizing the ambitious aspirations set forth in the Strategy by advancing a best-in-class execution framework that reinforces accountability, ensures stakeholder input and engagement, standardizes project management, monitors meaningful project metrics, and ensures routine and transparent communications across the institution. A long-term master facilities framework also has been developed.
“There could not be a better time to launch our new Strategy,” Pisters says. “We are uniquely positioned to lead the world in ending cancer, and we will stop at nothing to propel the pace of discovery and innovation in cancer science and care.”