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

Jane Palmer (Research Consultant at the Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, Australia)
Niki Ellis (Director of the Australian Health Workforce Institute, University of Queensland, Herston, Australia)


ISSN: 1463-6689

Article publication date: 29 May 2009




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.


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.


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.


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.



Palmer, J. and Ellis, N. (2009), "Methodology for a think tank: the future of military and veterans' health", Foresight, Vol. 11 No. 3, pp. 14-27.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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