Harness the Power of a Vision for the Future and Storytelling to Supercharge Your Strategic Planning

By The SHSMD Team posted 16 days ago

Why are novels or dramas like 1984, Brave New World or The Handmaid’s Tale not just best-sellers but powerful cultural icons? Why do people with concrete visions of what they want to achieve succeed so much more often than those with vaguer wishes? Because each of them uses carefully crafted depictions of possible futures that grip us mentally and emotionally and fill us with determination to change the present to avoid or to bring about that future.

Scenario planning can prepare your organization for what’s ahead by taking advantage of the same power of vision and storytelling to help your hospital or health system understand trends and their consequences, analyzing patterns of change and creating preferred futures to build and undesired futures to avoid through scenario planning.

If your hospital or health system already has an environmental scanning process, you’re more than halfway there. Scenario planning is a three-step process: capture information, analyze and identify interactions and synthesize your understanding of the interactions into very brief stories about possible futures.

The image describes the three steps of the scenario process: Capture (Identify sources), Analyze (Identify interactions), and Synthesize (Create scenarios),

Scenarios can take different forms, depending on your needs. If your focus is on creating a compelling vision that will drive action, you can create scenarios that depict:

  • A desired future based on what’s possible if everybody works together to make the right decisions among challenges and opportunities
  • An undesired future, which shows what could happen if your hospital or health system makes short-sighted decisions
  • A wildcard future, what would happen if an unlikely but powerful force creates major disruptions.
  • A standard future, a future in which tomorrow looks mostly like today. The standard future is mostly used to help highlight the changes in the other future scenarios, so sometimes it’s not as important to create as the others.

If instead your organization needs to explore the possible implications of forces of change, without necessarily choosing one to aspire to or avoid, then you can build explorations of those forces and interactions, again in the form of stories. The process of building a framework to understand those forces and how they interact makes your understanding of possible futures more thorough and detailed and stories make details more real.

To learn more…

SHSMD members can download our free guide, Scenario Planning for Hospitals and Health Systems.

Nonmembers can join SHSMD to gain access to the guide, educational material and other resources for strategic planning or purchase the guide for $50.