Module 2: Strategic and Systems Thinking

May 2021
Author: 
National Rural Health Resource Center (The Center)

This six-part educational video series provides mid-level leaders with foundational knowledge and strategies for leading their team and influencing others as they navigate the shift to value-based payment and population health.

Before You Begin: Complete the Pre/post-Training Evaluation template on page 8 within the Discussion Questions and Activities document before you begin the series and again after you complete Module 6.

Description and Topics Covered

Explore what it means to be a strategic and systems thinker in a mid-level leadership role – and how these types of thinking can positively impact the organization’s journey to value.

  • Systems Thinking and Strategic Thinking
  • Boundary Spanning: Working across boundaries inside and outside the organization
  • Community care coordination

Discussion Questions

  • How would you define “the health care system” in your community? What other organizations would you include under this umbrella?
  • How closely does your hospital work with these organizations now?
  • How much do you know about what these organizations do? How can you learn more?
  • How well do you understand your organization’s strategic plan? How well do you understand your role in it, and how each person who reports to you contributes to it? How well do those who report to you understand their role in it? If more knowledge is needed, how can you learn more?
  • What department(s) or people in your hospital would it be beneficial for you to collaborate with more? How can you make this happen?
  • What types of care coordination activities are currently happening in your hospital? What entities are involved in coordination? How were the populations chosen, and what outcomes have resulted?

Recommended Activities

  • Think of a change you have recently made or are about to make in your department. On a piece of paper, map out the individuals,  groups, events or processes affected by this change. Then add to your map the driving forces behind the change – any individuals, groups, events or processes that made the change necessary. Expand your drawing out as far as you can. Then step back and admire the system represented on your map! (there’s an example of this in the Resource Guide for this series)
  • Have a conversation with your manager about the following:
    • How they view your role in the hospital’s ability to successfully achieve its strategic goals
    • Any relationships (inside or outside the hospital) that would be beneficial for you to develop in order to achieve strategic goals  
    • If you aren’t very familiar with care coordination initiatives taking place in your facility, reach out to those responsible for these activities to learn more about them.

Resources

  1. Thinking, Fast and Slow. Kahneman, D. (2011). New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux. - Describes two different systems that drive the way we think: System 1 thinking, which is fast, intuitive, and emotional; and System 2 thinking, which is slower, deliberate, and logical.
  2. National Rural Health Resource Center’s Care Management and Coordination Resource Library - A collection of resources to help with the development and improvement of the management of care.
  3. The "Thinking" in Systems Thinking: How Can We Make It Easier to Master? Richmond, B. (2016, August 16). The Systems Thinker - This article describes the four-step process used in systems thinking and seven critical skills required of systems thinkers.
  4. The Fifth Discipline. Senge, P.M. (1990). New York: Doubleday. - This book outlines strategies for helping organizations expand their thinking patterns and embrace continuous learning.
  5.  - An example of a systems map, a resource to help you draw a systems map of your own (one of the recommended activities for Module 2).

This project is/was supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number UB1RH24206, Information Services to Rural Hospital Flexibility Program Grantees, $1,560,000 (0% financed with nongovernmental sources). This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.