Preparing leaders for challenges that are unnamed, underdefined, and/or yet to arrive

“Our critique began as all critiques begin: with doubt. Doubt became our narrative. Ours was a quest for a new story, our own. And we grasped toward this new history driven by the suspicion that ordinary language couldn’t tell it.”

– Waking Life

The topic of this month’s Leadership Excellence Networks web meeting was “Using simulations to teach business acumen, systems thinking… and to change the world.”   The topic is one we highlighted in our winter white paper on future leadership development needs.  We were fortunate to be joined by Ray Vigil, who recently retired as CLO of Humana.  In this role, Ray had been instrumental in using simulations as a learning as a tool for cultural transformation among senior leaders.   The approach was so successful that it went on to be applied as a learning tool for leaders across healthcare organizations.

Although simulation as a senior leadership learning tool may seem novel in healthcare, they have found widespread use in other industries, particularly in those where the external environment is prone to rapid and disruptive change. It is an approach that lends itself particularly well to immersing leaders in an environment that does not yet exist – as long as that future state can be defined in enough depth to create an experience around it.

So here’s an intriguing question: could simulations help healthcare leaders develop the competencies they need to reach the ‘second curve?’

We think so.  But answering this question will require a clearer understanding of the nature of the challenges, as well as the resources (knowledge, competencies, mindsets, social capital) healthcare leaders will require for future success.   Fortunately, there is a lot of thoughtful work going on out there right now – at NCHL, LENS organizations, and beyond – that is starting to flesh this out.

We will have more to report about these efforts in the months ahead.

About Andrew Garman

Chief Executive Officer, NCHL; Professor, Health Systems Management Department, Rush University

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