Job Title: Foresight Strategist
Work Unit: Strategic Planning and Policy Development Division / Planning and Evaluation
Ministry: Alberta Health
Competition Number: 1040320
Date: January 2017
Reporting to the Manager of Strategic Foresight and Planning, the Foresight Strategist provides advanced technical support in the areas of project design, project management, facilitation of corporate integration and research on critical projects that span the whole health system. The position works within the closely coordinated Strategic Foresight Unit and is expected to collaborate with other foresight, strategist and design professionals. The results of the Foresight Strategist's work will inform strategic planning and health system design to ensure the department builds a coherent path towards the future and is prepared for and resilient to future circumstances. Projects engage internal and external stakeholders and multiple inputs and analyses to integrate contextual information (including information pertaining to social values, political landscapes, economic realities and global movements) with environmental information to garner insight into drivers and trends. The incumbent develops recommendations and provides advice to senior-leadership, and also provides inputs to the ministry's policy directions, strategic and business planning processes / documents, annual report, and business resumption plan. The incumbent is expected to work with and provide advanced support to senior health system executives.
The position further liaises with project stakeholders to advance critical projects (e.g. governance reforms, program redesign, integrated policy development etc.) This includes ensuring tools, processes and knowledge networks support synthesis, integration and capacity building approaches are in place and deployed to ensure timely and successful delivery of projects.
Responsibilities and Activities
Provide project management support for strategic projects spanning unit efforts in health systems design.
- Through consultations with internal and external clients and participation in unit sessions, develop and lead the implementation of project plans, track and provide status reports on small to large projects.
- Identify potential areas for the application of appropriate methodologies by identifying emerging issues, trends, opportunities, complex scenarios and risks relevant to ministry and government policy.
- Coordinate the production of and develop materials/information products to support projects, including briefings, narratives, presentations, tools, models and visuals.
- Establish and lead/facilitate issues-based project teams and leads workshops, as required, to capture diverse perspectives regarding public policy and create shared understanding of future possibilities.
- Support the development of models/frameworks and accessible tools to facilitate ongoing dialogue on policy issues.
Participate in the development of research, analysis, and advice related to the strategic planning of the ministry.
- Complete qualitative and quantitative policy research and analysis, horizon, environmental and jurisdictional scanning, and literature reviews to identify issues and best practices in the health system.
- Prepare quarterly and annual summaries to inform the context of strategic planning and development of potential directions.
- Develop options and recommendations to address those issues.
- Build scenarios and models to test future assumptions and options for the ministry.
- Research and analyze the impacts of strategic policy initiatives and options and identify linkages between issues and initiatives in relation to directions identified via strategic planning processes.
- Applying a corporate perspective raise awareness of significant trends and leading practices through the development of appropriate briefing, presentation and informational material.
Prepare a variety of documents to support executive decision-making.
- Provide policy advice, process support and coordination support to address the strategic policy perspective.
- Develops agendas and approaches to strategic planning sessions Research and prepare briefing notes and correspondence for ministerial and other Action Requests on a variety of health policy and strategy issues.
- Participate in reviews of policy options, legislation, regulations and related documents produced by teams across the department to ensure ministry alignment and perspective prior to items being presented to the Deputy Minister for sign-off.
- Prepare communication materials and presentations.
- Prepare decision documents (MRs, RFDs, C2D2s, Memos).
- Monitor current issues related to the ministry to inform the research and development of documents.
- Participate in developing ministry submissions to GoA e-scanning activities.
- Provide advice and information related to policy research and analysis to ministry staff to increase policy capacity.
Support the Manager, Strategic Foresight and Planning in leading the Unit to accomplish operational goals.
- Assign and supervise team work-flows, shifting priorities as needed.
- Participate in Unit planning and reporting.
- Raise awareness to emerging issues that require senior and executive attention.
- Build and maintain strong working relationships across the department to foster a proactive perspective to strategic alignment of policy initiatives.
- The work of this position impacts the internal development of long-term provincial health strategies and policies, providing research and coordination activities that contribute to the development of foresight products and projects that inform and shape the ministry's strategic planning process and documents. Systematic and routine exploration of future developments (e.g. over a 20 year horizon) and uncertainties can better position the ministry to proactively shape the future, rather than only react to it. Strategic planning documents drive business and operational planning, and policy development for the whole of Alberta's healthcare system. The Foresight Strategist is part of a team that works closely with other branches and divisions within the ministry as well as external stakeholders on a variety of initiatives. The position draws on individual initiative and creativity, with a high degree of accuracy and self-motivation within the scope of the position and under the direction provided by the Manager. The incumbent determines which approach to use to fulfill work requirements based on general instruction from the Manager.
- Multiple projects will be ongoing at any one time requiring strong organizational and coordination skills. Issues can span the health care continuum, adding to the diversity of the position. Some initiatives will require short time investments, while others will be longer term.
- Much of the work of this position is focused on projections well into the future; as such not all factors are known. Professional judgement is required to make assumptions and estimates when completing analyses.
- The position requires the ability to prioritize work to meet changing priorities and time lines; the nature of research will often require the Foresight Strategist to collect and synthesize content/data from several sources. The Foresight Strategist determines the best approach to use based on general instruction and a broader understanding of the context of the issue.
- The position requires the ability to work independently and within a team environment to provide briefing information and address issues.
Creativity is applied when determining which approach to use to answer the initial research questions and how best to present results. The Foresight Strategist will also participate as needed in framing the development of questions to guide visioning for strategic planning purposes. Past precedent, research theory and methodologies, and ministry policies and standards are used to solve problems.
Knowledge, Skills and Abilities
- Advanced knowledge of enterprise planning, decision-making, policy development processes and procedures, and other corporate deliverables timelines.
- Advanced knowledge of the range of policies and initiatives ongoing and in place within the health system.
- Knowledge of systems-thinking and strategic foresight theory within the public service practice.
- Knowledge of project management methods and approaches including adaptability and flexibility to adjust priorities and schedule for self as needed to meet the needs of each initiative.
- Sound knowledge of research and analysis methodologies (i.e. expertise, participatory, intuitive, and logical).
- Knowledge of different approaches to strategic planning and foresight / scanning tools and methods, and ability to apply the appropriate methodology to each situation.
- Knowledge of response requirements, formats, and time lines for action requests, briefings, etc.
Skills and Abilities:
- Self-directed with the ability to work independently and collaboratively with others to achieve joint, high quality outputs in a timely fashion.
- Ability to foster trusting and dependable working relationships with internal and external staff.
- Exceptionally strong critical reasoning and constructive thinking skills.
- Research skills to identify and assess new tools and mechanisms to collect and report on strategic options and initiatives and raise awareness to policy implications of strategic options.
- Highly developed conceptual and analytical skills to effectively translate a range of diverse information into meaningful intelligence.
- Strategic thinking abilities to identify emerging issues, see how things fit together in the system, and develop options for resolution.
- Innovation and creative thinking to initiate and support the development of different approaches and generate new ways to resolve issues and develop opportunities.
- Strong ability to develop appropriate methodologies from across the research spectrum (i.e. expertise, participatory, intuitive, and logical).
- Strong written, verbal and visual communication skills to clarify and communicate issues and ideas to others.
- Strong interpersonal and negotiation skills to collect of a diverse range of inputs for research and determine research needs.
- Strong organizational and time management skills with the ability to prioritize.
- Problem solving skills to address issues with reports and data.
- Attention to detail and accuracy.
- Ability to think about long-term possibilities while operating in present day realities.
- Ability to create relationships and networks.
- Strategic and long-term thinking.
- University degree in related field plus four years related experience or equivalent. An advanced degree (i.e. M.A., M.Sc., MHA, M.Des) with two years related experience may be substituted for less experience.
- Assistant Deputy Minister, Executive Director, Director, Manager - provide updates and briefings; raise awareness to emerging issues;; prepare presentations and reports; offer advice; seek direction.
- Unit and Branch Staff - collaborate with other Strategic Planning Team members; exchange information; communicate ongoing efforts and results of the position; contribute to the design and execution of the branch mandate, work plans and priorities; contribute as an active member of the team.
- Officials at various levels internal to the ministry, in other ministries and in other jurisdictions - gather intelligence on joint initiatives; prepare documents; respond to queries I sharing information; present findings and provide advice as required.
- Stakeholders in professional associations and organizations related to health, seniors and Aboriginal health - gather intelligence; collaborate on joint initiatives; share information; coordinate consultation activities.
- Research data organizations (e.g. Statistics Canada; post-secondary and research institutions) - Seek and collect information on trends and issues.
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