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Thoughts On “Strategize Outside the Box”

It was the description that got me to the session. This conference is great, and there’s so much to learn, but there’s also only so many PowerPoint presentations I can sit through. So when I read Scott Ward’s session description, I had to go. I knew it was either going to be great or it was going to bomb. I wasn’t sure if enough people were ready to put themselves out there and participate.

It was great, and enough people took the risk and did improv. We laughed a lot, but we also learned. I thought the best lesson was the 1-word story. We went around the room and told a story, with each person contributing one word. The first time around, Scott started with the word “Once.” So everyone expected the next person to say “upon” so the third person was ready to say “a” and the fourth was ready to say “time.” But the second person didn’t say “upon.” He said something else, and it took the third person a minute to go in that new direction. Scott used that to make a great point: so many times, we start out thinking we know what the story will be when it gets to us, and we have our word or our response ready, and then the person next to us gives us a word we don’t expect. And we freeze–we can’t use our word and it takes a moment to think of something else.

Scott’s lesson was to be flexible, to not hold onto that response we’re sure we’re going to give, and to be nimble and deal the hand we’re dealt when we’re dealt it. We have to be ready with a response, but we also have to be nimble enough to respond smoothly when the question or situation isn’t the one we expect.

Kudos, Scott, for a great session, and for taking the risk on this experiment. It worked! Thanks to the conference committee for letting Scott do this session. And thanks also to all the people who volunteered and put themselves out there and took a chance.

Christine Mulvin, The Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati


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