Strategic Planning: OBSSR

Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR)

Category: Organizational Development & Strategic Planning

The Challenge:

The Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) was established in 1995 to stimulate and integrate research in the areas of behavioral and social sciences throughout the National Institutes of Health with the goal of improving our understanding, treatment, and prevention of disease. Over the years, OBSSR became increasingly critical to the mission of the NIH.

In light of past growth and success, the intent of this project was to solicit the best thinking from diverse audiences to reshape OBSSR's strategic focus.

The Solution:

CSI facilitated a structured process to organize contributions from internal and external stakeholders, including leaders in the fields of behavioral and social sciences and representatives from the NIH. The Concept System® methodology provided a conceptual framework. Additional qualitative research methods, such as interviews, content analysis of existing literature, and the conduct of a Summit were incorporated to confirm and query the conceptual framework.

The Results:

Through the engagement of key stakeholders, this initiative was able to develop a strategic framework that provided OBSSR with a broad conceptual basis from which to identify priority strategies. Our process documents details regarding specific strategies, as well as an archived database of specific tasks or actions suggested by the participants to enable the priority strategies to be addressed efficiently and effectively.

Finally, as the culmination of more than a year of consensus building and deliberation using the Concept System methodology, OBSSR released The Contributions of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research to Improving the Health of the Nation: A Prospectus for the Future, which identifies strategic recommendations for future research priorities in the behavioral and social sciences, focusing on four key areas:

  • "Next Generation" Basic Science
  • Interdisciplinary Research
  • Systems Thinking Approaches to Health
  • Population Impact: Problem-Focused Research