• Tara Humphrey

Following The Path of The Worst-Case Scenario to Aid Decision Making

Updated: May 8, 2019

This week’s blog post follow’s the path of the worst-case scenario inspired by DeBono’s Six Thinking Hats and the Tim Ferris TED Talk on “Why you should define your fear instead of your goals”.

Too many times the discussion often stops when people highlight the problem instead of pressing further into the issue. So, this week I will share how the process of highlighting the worst-case scenario can help; individuals, teams and businesses to better plan, manage risk, increase creative thinking and improve collaboration. 

The Framework

Step 1: Has anyone done this before?

How many times have you stopped yourself from doing something you know has been done many times before?

If it has been done before. I believe it can be done again. Not exactly the same perhaps, but very similar and this should give you confidence that your idea is possible.

If it hasn’t, then why not try?

Step 2: State the what if………..

In this step, we want to shape what could be possible.

For example: what if we decided to pool our funds with another organisation with the intention of generating a greater impact.


What if we invited primary and community care to come together in a big conference to promote integrated working and to improve communication?

Step 3: Define why it can’t work. (This is always the easiest bit.)

Here we put on De Bono’s Black Hat and play devil’s advocate and highlight all the things that could go wrong.

Lack of funding, lack of resources, different governance structures, politics, the uncertainty of where the organisation will be in the future …..

Step 4: What would you do to prevent/overcome your previous objections.

This requires us to remove the Black Hat and replace with our Green Hat and consider what we can do to overcome our previous objections and think what could we do?

  • Could you bid for funds to support the initial set up?

  • Could you speak to an area which has done this before to understand the lessons learnt?

  • Are you aware of any training opportunities?

  • Could you stop doing something you know isn’t working?

  • Could you be involved in your patient participation group?

Step 5: State the benefits of what an attempt or partial success could look like.

We switch hats again now and secure De Bono’s yellow hat of positivity and optimism focusing on the benefits of our proposed idea.

More collaborative working, increased innovation, streamlined processes, greater bargaining and negotiation power, long-term cost savings, greater investment ….

Step 6: Decide

Now you have gone through the framework of the worst-case scenario, did you encounter any obstacles which cannot be overcome or worked around? The process of highlighting the worst-case scenario and then working through how you would approach things will challenge you to think differently and if facilitated well, will bring a bit of fun and creativity to the session.

What did you decide on?

This week I will share a rapid decision-making tool.

For more blogs of leadership, change management, communication, project management and new ways of working in primary care, please visit https://www.tarahumphreyconsulting.co.uk/blog