The Pathway Toward The Desired Future

Roadmapping emerged from the corporate innovation world in the 1980s and 90s as new fore-sighting method design to strategically plan, align business and technological innovations with various desired future scenarios. As opposed to other visioning approaches it is rather proactive. It is less about reacting to the changes in the world or a business sector and more about actively creating the future that is desired. It has proven to be a powerful alignment and consensus building process that uses visual representation of the road(s) forward as a way of aligning resources, organizing collective impact and marshalling diverse interests in that desired future. Given that the future is uncertain, contingency planning around potential divergent pathway must also be addressed and accounted for.

The literature on roadmapping has increasingly highlighted its utility in addressing complex, wicked problems, with multiple stake holders, working over long time horizons. The visual depiction of future states and scenarios can be a powerful anchoring mechanism and provide useful framework for constructing narratives to motivate and align different sectors or actors. Roadmapping has also been useful in landscaping future trends and events, and supporting integrative innovation processes where an ambitious goal (e.g. human space travel to Mars, reducing dependence on fossil fuels, creating a smart city, advancing to a 3.0 health system) is the target of the roadmapping and innovation process. More a visual compass than a trail map, roadmapping along with other complementary approaches (e.g. systems dynamic modelling) can assist in achieving strategic aims as well as being responsive to diverse interests and needs.  Developing a feasible roadmap is also useful in demonstrating that a desired and ambitious goal is within reach.

The Child Health System Transformation Initiative has conducted several different visioning meetings using different techniques. Roadmapping, as practiced and supported by the Institute for Manufacturing at the University of Cambridge was adopted because of its proven track record in supporting realistic strategy development for ambitious complex initiatives.  In December of 2015, CHSTI held a Future (3.0) Child Health System Roadmapping meeting at the University of Pennsylvania and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Supported by IfM-Cambridge and led by US based IfM consultant John Saiz ( former chief technology officer at NASA), 40+ child health experts, practitioners, innovators, and researchers, along with experts in early childhood education, education, community development, architecture, finance, planning and design, came together for 2 days to create 3.0 Child Health System Roadmap.



In advance of the December meeting all participants created a landscape profile, highlighting what they considered to be the major trends that presently and in the future will be driving the need for a 3.0 health system. This landscape profile answered 3 basic questions. Why is a 3.0 health system necessary? What are the needs and drivers that a 3.0 health system must address? How can CHSTI through local All Children Thrive efforts provide the support, expertise and cross cutting capacity to help local communities be successful in achieving their 3.0 goals. Because we had a rocket scientist helping us envision this desired future we use the metaphor of a “moon launch for children” in Columbus or San Diego or Delaware to frame what ACT Columbus, ACT San Diego, or Act Delaware might look like.

Generating ideas and strategies focused on the why change is needed and what that change should entail ...

Matrix for Action


Using opportunity and feasibility as ranking criteria, an analytic matrix was produced to highlight where needs and trends intersect or overlap in order to target the development of specific strategy pathways (topic specific roadmaps). These specific strategy pathways (topics) included financing future health system designs, data and learning systems, family center design strategies, etc.

Strategy Pathways


This is an example of a strategy pathway that a small group of participants created to develop a specific way forward. This process entails: 1) Identifying the future scenario or desired outcome, 2) Identifying where we are starting from in the present reality, and more

© 2018 by the UCLA Center for Healthier Children, Families and Communities