Creating a strategic story to engage employees and establish competitive advantage

ThedaCare: Creating a strategic story to engage employees and establish competitive advantage


Although it was admired as a thought leader in the health care industry, ThedaCare was not immune to environmental forces at work challenging its long-term sustainability, which ranged from competitors encroaching on their turf to health care reform to the implementation of electronic record systems. ThedaCare had to develop an external brand that would set it apart from the other community health systems in the Wisconsin area. At the same time, leaders had to find a way internally to rally employees with incredibly diverse roles around a shared purpose, motivating them to execute on the strategy.


  • Completed one-on-one intake sessions with senior leadership team to understand the company strategy and current state.
  • Created a straw man message platform that captured the meaning behind the business strategy in a way that appealed to minds as well as hearts and clearly identified desired behaviors.
  • Ensured the internal communication and engagement efforts were connected to and aligned with external brand efforts.
  • Facilitated a senior leadership team off-site with the objective of “unfreezing” leader’s old ways of thinking and building a foundation of alignment on the way forward.
  • Tested and refined the message platform with a leadership team sub-group.
  • Designed and facilitated a message platform training to align senior leaders around the key messages and equip them to consistently lead change communications, staying on message even while managing tense or difficult situations.
  • Partnered with HR and Communication to infuse the storyline into the organization via a communication drumbeat plan and the identification of desired behaviors.


  • The leadership team is more aligned around and accountable for their role of intentionally, proactively and consistently talking about ThedaCare’s strategy in terms that engage the hearts and minds of employees.
  • The message platform is serving as the basis of all leadership communication.
  • HR and Communication is working together to define desired employee behaviors in a way that better connects to strategic outcomes.

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