Jim is an excellent presenter. He was full of enthusism and showed knowledge on his topic. He came well prepared and easily adapted to challenging discussions.
— Senior Physician Leader, Duke Corporate Education Seminar Attendee

about JIM



Jim Austin, a former senior executive at Baxter Healthcare, combines business strategy and organizational development theory with extensive industry experience.  His expertise is in working with senior management on strategic planning, organizational change, strategy execution and new business growth.  In June 2016, Springer published his book,  Leading Strategic Change in an Era of Healthcare Transformation, co-authored with two other Brown University faculty, for healthcare leaders trying to drive transformational change in their institution (click here for more information).  In April 2018, the Health Administration Press published Jim's second book, Transformative Planning: How Your Healthcare Organization Can Strategize for an Uncertain Future (click here for more information).  

Jim is currently an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Health Services, Policy and Practice, Brown University, where he heads a graduate Leadership & Management course in the School of Professional Studies.  Jim is also a lecturer/consultant at the Aresty Institute of Executive Education, Wharton Business School, where he tailors and delivers senior-level seminars on Strategy, Strategic Execution, Scenario Planning and Critical Thinking for a number of leading entities including Boston Scientific, Coca-Cola, Lincoln Financial, GE, Boston Scientific, McKesson, Takeda and Hitachi.  From 1996 through 2016, Jim was a Business Management Professor at the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management where he received the “Most Distinguished Corporate Education Faculty Member” (2009-10) and the “Learning Excellence” (2012) awards.  From 2013-2016, he was an Adjunct Faculty in the Department of Health Systems Management, College of Health Sciences, Rush University, where he taught a graduate seminar on Healthcare Ethics.

From 2005-2016, Mr. Austin worked at Decision Strategies International, leaving as a Senior Principal.  There he led numerous projects including scenarios of the future for a Medical Devices firm; R&D priorities for a major consumer products company; a strategic plan for the American College of Radiology; scenarios of the future for the League of Southeastern Credit Unions; a new vision/priorities at RAND Health and Board strategic planning facilitation for the United Nations Federal Credit Union.  Jim now heads his own Executive Education/Consulting firm, JH Austin Associates, Inc.
Prior to joining Decision Strategies, Jim worked for 12 years at Baxter Healthcare, the last four as Vice President of Strategy Development for the Renal Division.  Jim identified new business opportunities, facilitated annual strategy planning processes and worked with senior management on organizational development for this rapidly growing, nearly $2B Division.  Before Baxter, Jim was Assistant to the President for ANCHOR HMO, a subsidiary of Rush Medical Center, Chicago.  Prior to his move to Chicago, Jim worked as a Consultant for Arthur D. Little, Inc., where he led a number of large-scale planning, business development and strategic positioning studies.  Between college and graduate school, Jim spent four years as an Economist/Planning Officer in the Ministry of Finance, Botswana.

Jim holds a B.A. in Economics and Politics from Yale University.  He was a Special Student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the Urban Studies Department, and received a joint Masters in Public Affairs (MPA) and a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) from the Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University.  Jim was past Chairman of the Strategic Leadership Forum, a Board Member of the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois, a past Member of the Board of Directors for the University Club of Chicago, Treasurer of LaSalle Language Academy and on the Admissions Committee for the Latin School of Chicago. 





The following half-day to full-day seminars seek to:

· Help front-line leaders shift from managing to leading;

· Aid leaders in setting strategic direction for their teams, not just delivering on short-term requirements; and,

· Be directly applicable, adding immediate value within client organizations


Each seminar can be customized for different clients as a stand-alone offering, or combined with the other topics outlined.


Seminar 1.
Creating a Vision

One critical aspect of leadership is creating a compelling, yet realistic vision, whether for a team or the organization.  Good visions combine aspirational as well as core goals and “employee hooks.”  This is especially critical in driving change: not just explaining the “what”, but more importantly, the “why” for any major strategic effort.  The seminar, based on Mike Useem’s (Wharton) and Jim Collins’ (Stanford) work, engages attendees in defining their organizational purpose, values and aspirational goals.  Using real world examples from current companies as well as Col. Chamberlain’s motivational speech to his troops before the pivotal battle at Gettysburg on July 2, 1863, the essentials for developing a unique, inspiring vision will be explored.


Seminar 2.
What is Strategy?
Where to Play/How to Win

Developed in client seminars at major companies such as Walgreens and Boston Scientific, and based on articles by Hambrick (“Are You Sure You Have a Strategy?”) and Collis (“Can You Say What Your Strategy Is?”), this seminar explores identifying profitable segments for growth (where to play) and how firms should then compete in those segments (how to win).  These are the critical questions to answer in developing a strategy.  The problem is, as Rumelt explains (Good Strategy, Bad Strategy), most strategic plans stop at the broad goal level and never yield sufficient granularity to drive “sustainable competitive advantage” (Porter).


Seminar 3.
Strategy: Developing a Strategic
Portfolio of Initiatives

Good strategies make trade-offs, focusing resources in the pursuit of sustainable competitive advantage.  This seminar will help participants:

 --Define their critical longer-term goals that support their Vision and Key Goals;

 --Utilize several strategic planning frameworks to identify strategic initiatives; and

 --Prioritize these strategic initiatives in the pursuit of longer-term value and growth, while continuing to meet short-term requirements.

Built around articles by Hambrick (“Are You Sure You Have a Strategy?”) and Collis (“Can You Say What Your Strategy Is?), as well as the book The Granularity of Growth, this workshop explores identifying segments for growth (“where to play”), how organizations can best compete in those segments (“how to win”) and approaches for developing a portfolio of options (short-, medium- and longer-term) to reduce risk and increase future flexibility.


Seminar 4.
Identifying Growth Opportunities/
Strategy from the Outside-In

While traditional strategy emphasizes competitive positioning within existing industry or business structures, Value Innovation--based on George Day’s book, Strategy from the Outside-In--seeks new opportunities from the customer’s perspective.  This seminar will help participants:

 --Understand key customer segment needs, especially those needs that are not being met today;

 --Find growth opportunities in adjacencies and totally new product/service offerings;

--Change competitive conditions by focusing on value drivers preferred by critical customers.

Key frameworks to be explored are Value Curves and Pain Point analyses, tied to P. Fuller’s work on Customer Centricity, to help attendees identify new growth opportunities.


Seminar 5.
Strategy Execution and Driving Change—
Tying It All Together

As Larry Bossidy explains in his book, Execution, strategies are only as good as their execution.  Unfortunately, most managers see strategy formulation and strategy execution as two separate efforts, rather than an integrated set of iterative moves.  This seminar will help participants understand:

 --The ideal relationship between Strategy Development and its Execution; and,

 --A simple, three-step model to optimize execution.

Two concepts will be further explored: First, execution-oriented entities have clear visions that articulate aspirational goals, but also practical “hooks” to guide daily decision-making; and,

Second, leading entities “utilize dual paintbrushes”--making core operations more efficient, while also exploring experimental or innovative opportunities.  Unfortunately, both require different skills and measurement systems, which many groups find hard to articulate and balance.


Seminar 6. Strategic Agility

In today’s VUCA world—Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous—flexibility is critical.  As Jack Welch states, “Strategy is an approximate course of action that you frequently revisit and redefine, according to shifting market conditions.”  The concept of strategic agility is that iterative process Welch refers to: establishing a clear goal(s) and midpoints, but being flexible as to the strategic initiatives to accomplish the goal(s).  In this seminar, attendees will be challenged to develop an “options” approach to strategy, especially for longer-term, more speculative efforts.  Two core concepts will be articulated: the need to balance “core” operations with adaptive efforts; and broad monitoring efforts to learn “faster than the competition.”


Seminar 7.

As GE defines innovation: “The practical and successful application of many types of ideas, including inventions, to create business value.”  Most companies focus on incremental product and service innovations; in fact, most value is created in totally new endeavors.  The problem is risk: as entities move beyond adjacencies into whole new markets, products, services…risk rises exponentially.  This seminar will help leaders better understand incremental and transformative innovation, the risks involved, and the need to develop a portfolio of options for innovation-driven growth.  Attendees will also be exposed to leading company approaches to idea generation, prioritization and innovation tournaments (based on work by C.Terwiesch).


Seminar 8.
Leading Transformational Change in
Healthcare Institutions

Based on Mr. Austin's recently published book, Transformative Planning, this seminar is for senior healthcare leaders seeking to transform--not just incrementally improve--their organization to meet the changing requirements of local, regional and national healthcare reform.  But what is meant by “transformational” change?  Definitions abound from reducing the rate of healthcare cost increases to “global health” focusing on “improving health and achieving equity in health for all people worldwide.”  In-between are multiple gradations of “transformational”…Clayton Christensen, for example, argues for “disruptive innovations to revitalize the health care industry,” meaning low-cost, readily available technologies that will “provide sophisticated service in affordable settings.”  This seminar explores the opportunities and challenges in transformational change by:

--Assessing the mental models that can impede the exploration of new, innovative alternatives;

--Outlining future options that enable strategic dialogue and broader, “outside-in” thinking”; and,

--Driving execution to meet short-, medium- and longer-term goals.


Seminar 9.
Decision-Making Under Uncertainty

In today’s VUCA world—Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous—decision-making is critical.  Unfortunately, as Dan Ariely writes, we are all “predictably irrational.”  This seminar outlines, through videos and interactive exercises, the key steps to critical thinking: 

·     What is the problem?

·     Where to gather information, especially “disconfirming” data?

·     How to make the decision?

·     Are we willing to adjust afterwards based on new information?

For each of the decision steps outlined, participants will be engaged in short exercises that highlight the ‘decision traps’ we are all prone to exhibit.  How we respond, though, is culturally-specific—adding additional complexity for global leaders. Throughout, attendees will be challenged to develop an “options” approach to decision-making, especially for longer-term, more uncertain efforts. 


Jim Austin's recent consulting assignments included:

  • Strategic development and execution assignment with a senior team, helping organization emerge from major marketing and organizational crises.

  • Worked with a significant pharmaceutical department on internal priorities, OD and brand development to improve effectiveness, holding budgets constant. 

  • Improved innovation capabilities in the R&D group of a global consumer products company.

  • Led a major strategy development effort for a service-based organization going through a change in leadership and market position.

  • Developed a scenario-based strategy for Department of Nursing, the Mayo Clinic.

  • Created War Game simulation of branded/generic introductions for market share protection.

  • For Biotech client, developed scenarios of the future for pharma commercialization capabilities.

Jim’s knowledge was exceptional, and it was clear he did his pre-work around our current demographic
— Physician Administrator, ACHE Strategic Change Seminar
Jim did a great job keeping the class engaged and made the material relevant...
— Attendee, Wharton Financial Seminar
Jim has great energy and opened our session with a lot of great content...
— Attendee, Wharton Executive Education Seminar
Jim is a fantastic connector and leader of the program. I appreciate the subtle and not so subtle nuggets of wisdom for growing our businesses.
— Attendee, Wharton Executive Education Seminar
Excellent topics and tools. Jim was excellent.
— Hospital Administrator, Duke Corporate Education


Jim Austin, Transformative Planning: How Your Healthcare Organization Can Strategize for an Uncertain Future, Health Administration Press, ACHE Management Series, Chicago, 2018



Jim Austin, et al, Leading Strategic Change in an Era of Healthcare Transformation, Springer International Publishing, Switzerland, 2016.


Paul Schoemaker, Jim Austin, “The Art of the Real: How to Get to the Truth”, INC, 2/28/19 (https://www.inc.com/paul-schoemaker/the-art-of-the-real.html)

"What's Your Strategy for Leading in Times of Uncertainty?", FierceHealthcare, July 9, 2018 (https://www.fiercehealthcare.com/hospitals-health-systems/industry-voices-what-s-your-strategy-for-leading-times-uncertainty)


"The Business of BioMedicine”, Chapter 5 in Paul J.H. and Joyce A Schoemaker, Chips, Clones and Living Beyond 100, FT Press, September 2009


“A Look into the Future of the U.S. Medical Device Market”, Medical Device & Diagnostic Industry, January 2009 (co-authored with Terry Fadem and Paul Schoemaker)


“2016: Possible Production Scenarios for the US Dairy Industry”, Progressive Dairyman,  May 2008 (one of top-10 articles for the year)


“The Need for New Business Models: Big Pharma”, DSI Quarterly, Winter 2009


“Future Scenarios for Implantable Medical Devices”, DSI Quarterly, Summer 2007 (with Paul J.H. Schoemaker)


“The BioScience Industry and Technological Convergence”, DSI Quarterly, Summer 2006 (with Michael Mavaddat)


“The Future of BioSciences: Implications for the Bio-Pharmaceutical Industry”, DSI Quarterly, Spring 2006 (with Michael Mavaddat)


“Case Study: Helping a Major Hospital Develop a New Vision”, DSI Quarterly, Fall 2005


“The Future of BioSciences: Four Scenarios for 2020 and Beyond...”, DSI Quarterly, Summer 2005


“Leveraging the Internet for Better Patient Education”, Dialysis & Transplantation, Wiley Periodicals, Inc., June 2000


Editorial Board Member, Strategic Directions, MCB Business Strategy Publications, UK, 1994-97


“Four Key Questions in Negotiations”, Group Practice Journal, American Group Practice Association, 1988.


“Profile of the ANCHOR Organization for Health Maintenance”, Journal of Medical Practice Management, May 1987 (co-author)


“Project Management Models”, Management Notes, Arthur D. Little Management Education Institute, Inc., Vol. 2, 1985


“Trade Marts for Computer/Information Markets”, Urban Land, ULI, August 1984 (co-author)


“South Africa’s Vulnerable Neighbor”, Christian Science Monitor, Op-Ed, June 10, 1981


“The Botswana Economy and the Problem of Vulnerability”, Swedish Embassy Development Cooperation Office, January 1981


Botswana Drought Contingency Plan, Government of Botswana Printing Office, 1979


Editorial Editor, Yale Daily News, Yale College, 1973-74



What is Strategy?

Beginning A Strategy Retreat

Strategy For Changing Times

Class of Executive Master of Healthcare Leadership, 2019
Class discussion of leadership

Transforming healthcare and achieving the triple aim. We all know we need to do it. The question is how.     

Executive Master in Healthcare Leadership faculty member Jim Austin sheds light on this subject in his new book, Transformative Planning: How Your Healthcare Organization Can Strategize for an Uncertain Future. The book is based on Austin’s extensive experience working with healthcare organizations, such as hospitals, physician groups, and pharmacy benefit managers.  

Enjoy this mini-interview to find out how Austin packs into 120 pages a “how-to” guide for leaders looking to drive transformative change in a rapidly changing industry.




“Finding New Growth Opportunities: Strategy from the Outside-In”, The Wharton Latin America Conference Tour—Seminarium Master Classes, August 19-23, 2019 (Mexico City, Bogota, Santiago)

“Strategic Agility: Embracing Future Uncertainty”,  2019 Healthcare Forum Leadership Summit, American Hospital Association, July 25, 2019 (https://web.cvent.com/event/553b8ae2-ec4c-4cef-bd7f-7f9b5bdf10f9/websitePage:de5400e0-9ebd-47d6-93ae-ad5c7e59944b)

"Strategic Planning", American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) Senior Executive Program, June 11, 2018


"Leading Strategic Change", pre-Congress Seminar, ACHE 2018 Annual Congress, March 24-25, 2018


"Leading Strategic Change in an Era of Uncertainty", Cerner Healthcare Conference, October 10, 2017


“Leading Strategic Change”, ACHE, Kiawah Island, April 2016


“Driving Change in Primary Care”, American College of Healthcare Executives 2015 Annual Congress, Chicago, March 2015


“Introduction to Strategic Thinking and Wharton Executive Education”, American Association of Pediatric Dentists, Board of Directors, San Diego, January 2015


“Business Ethics: What to Do”, PCMA 2015 Convening Leaders Conference, Chicago, January 2015


“Strategy Under Uncertainty”, The Association for Convenience and Fuel Retailing (NACS) Conference, Las Vegas, October 2014


“Decision-Making Under Uncertainty”, BBA Aviation, CEO/Executive Team, September 2014


“New Growth Strategies”, AIBTM Orlando Conference, June 2014


“Value Innovation: Finding New Growth Opportunities”, AIME CEO Conference, Australia, February 2014


“Scenario Planning: A Tool for Times of Uncertainty”, Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) 2014 Convening Leaders, January 2014


“Value Innovation and New Growth Opportunities”, Redstone Financial Credit Union, Board of Directors, Florida, November 2013


“Scenarios of the Future of the Beef Industry”, American Association of Bovine Producers Conference, Milwaukee, WI, September 2013


Strategic Plan Development, Volunteers of America, IL Chapter Board of Directors, January-May 2013


“Dealing with Uncertainty and Strategic Prioritization”, Redstone Financial Credit Union, Board of Directors, Florida, November 2012


 “Leadership in a Changing Healthcare Landscape”, Board/Senior Management, St. Luke’s University Health Network, Bethlehem PA, October 2012


“Strategy Under Uncertainty”, Volunteers of America, Board of Directors, August 2013 


“Strategic Planning for Changing Times”, Navistar Financial Executive Team, Chicago IL, October 2011-June 2012


“Scenario Planning and Innovation”, Executive Team/Board, League of Southeastern Credit Unions & Affiliates, Florida, August 2011


“Strategic Planning, Dealing with Uncertainty and the Tool of Scenario Planning”, ANZ Executive Team, Jakarta Indonesia, April 2011


“Scenarios of the Future”, American College of Healthcare Architects, Board Retreat, January 2011


Dealing with Uncertainty…Developing Strategic Priorities”, Board of Advisors, RAND Health, January-June 2011


“What is Strategy and the Tool of Scenario Planning”, Royal Caribbean International Leadership Retreat, November 2010


“Decision Traps”, University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), 2009 National Symposium for Healthcare Executives, July 2009


“Decision-Making in Increasingly Uncertain Times”, “Strategic Agility--Developing a Robust Plan for Short and Long-Term Success”, “Creating a Local Vision”, APTA, 2009 Transit CEOs Seminar, January 2009


“From the Future Back”, Abbott, PPD, 2008 Managed Care Summit, Spring 2008


“Working with MDs”, Decision Analysis Affinity Group (DAAG) 2008 Conference, April 2008


“Decision Traps and Managing Future Uncertainties”, APTA, Transit Board Members Seminar, July 2008


“Updated Scenarios of the Future for US Dairy and Strategic Execution”, PDPW, Managers Academy, January 2008


“Scenarios of the Future for US Dairy”, PDPW, Managers Academy, January 2007


“US Medical Device Industry: Scenarios for the Future”, AdvaMed, 2007 Medical Technology Conference, Fall 2007 (with Terry Fadem and Mike Hess)


“Future of Medical Devices: Overview of the Market and Key Issues”, Wharton, Medical Devices Scenario Conference, Fall 2006


“New Approaches to Strategy: Combining Team-building and Strategy Development”, University of Chicago Business School Consulting Roundtable, 2002 (with Donna de St. Aubin)


Conference Chair, IIR, ePharma Summit: Leveraging eBusiness Strategies Across the Enterprise for Competitive Advantage, November 2000


“Maximizing the Role of eCommerce in Global Marketing Strategy”, IIR, E-Pharma: Implementing an Effective Electronic Media Marketing & Promotion Strategy, August 2000


Conference Chair, Frost & Sullivan, Second Annual Business Intelligence and Strategy in Healthcare Industry Conference and Exhibition, November 1999


“Going Global: Market Entry Strategies”, Frost & Sullivan, Fourth Annual Medical Device Industry Conference, March 1999


“Changing Strategic Direction: Implications for Growth and Performance Measurements”, IQPC, Performance Measurements for Strategic Planning Conference, February 1999


“Best Practices: Competitive Intelligence Management Strategies”, Frost & Sullivan, Competitive Intelligence in Business Conference, September 1998


“Technology Transfer at Baxter’s Renal Division”, Technology Transfer Society, July 1998


“Implementing a Global Strategy”, Strategic Management Society, Annual Conference, 1995


Chairman, Strategic Leadership Forum, Annual Conference, 1995





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