Methodology for a think tank: The future of military and veterans' health

Jane Palmer, Niki Ellis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Purpose: This paper seeks to argue that the adoption of a "critical futures" approach to management and content of a Think Tank conducted by the Centre for Military and Veterans' Health, Australia, resulted in outcomes conducive to deep level change within the organizations and professional groups involved. Design/methodology/approach: The Think Tank process focused on challenging mind-sets and entrenched systemic barriers at all organizational levels through: engagement of leadership throughout the process; broad-based workshops involving management, professional and operational levels; use of causal layered analysis to encourage critical thinking and ideas development; and use of scenarios to imagine the future. Findings: At the end of the Think Tank's program, a new framework supporting health services delivery had been envisaged, its components described and the cultural and structural changes needed to make this happen had been identified. Practical implications: The results of the Think Tank program will provide a basis for action to achieve a preferred future over the next two decades. Such action includes research, horizon scanning, adoption of new technologies, better information collection and management, and training and education programs, and most importantly attitudinal and cultural change. A significant indicator of the impact of the Think Tank is that requests for further work using similar methodologies to move towards the preferred future were quickly received from the military and veterans' sectors. Originality/value: The Think Tank worked alongside a military command control structure to maximize leverage for change, and to encourage critical and futures-oriented thinking at all organizational levels. The result has been a comprehensive and strategic vision of the future that went well beyond the outcomes envisaged at the beginning of the process. We are unaware of any other such futures projects which have been conducted in the military and veterans' health sector.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-27
Number of pages14
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 29 May 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Armed forces
  • Forecasting
  • Health services sector

Cite this