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Creating certainty – using military expertise to improve planning in the NHS

Productive People LLP & Quirk Solutions Ltd are joining forces

Productive People and Quirk Solutions have joined together to help improve the delivery of plans within the NHS.

Founder Partner Daniel Elkins said: “We are always looking for the best people to partner with and Quirk Solutions not only have expertise and experience in abundance, they offer a very unique set of skills that NHS trusts can really benefit from.”

Chris Paton

A former Lieutenant Colonel in the Royal Marines, with a wealth of operational experience, his military career included advising on Afghan Strategy and plans to the Cabinet Office and National Security Council, and he was responsible for the design of the drawdown of the 12,000 strong presence in Afghanistan and all of the associated bases and equipment.

In 2010, Chris co-authored a HBR article on planning in fluid situations. This then led to him leaving the military to create Quirk Solutions Ltd. Chris has worked with BUPA, Heineken, Standard Life Investments, Shell and a wide range of SME businesses. He uses his leadership, strategy and planning experience to give organisations increased coherency, direction and efficiency.

Now in partnership with Productive People, Chris is ready to help change the way plans are delivered in the NHS.

Business Wargaming

The process explained

Business Wargaming is a tool used by the military and now used by businesses and public sector bodies to evaluate or ‘pressure test’ the quality of a given plan before committing resources into action.

Through carefully constructed workshops by quality experts, plans can quickly tested for their quality. By going through the business wargaming process the plans will be enhanced and all parties involved gain from greater clarity and certainty.

The end result is that plans are of a better quality before resources are committed and the likelihood of successful delivery rises very significantly. Just consider what a 1% or a 5% improvement on a business plan covering £100m would make.

Business Wargaming in the NHS


Now in partnership with Productive People, Quirk Solutions are providing NHS organisations with short and focused interventions through engaging and interactive workshops.

The process has already been used to review a service improvement plan of a high profile department of one of the largest NHS Trusts and also with the London HR Directors Network as they reviewed some their project priorities for the coming financial year.


The interventions can be as short as a few hours, or half a day and in some cases it is best to involve a series of half days or full days spaced out over several weeks to really test every aspect of a plan.

How it is structured will depend on the quality of the current plan to be tested, the number of stakeholders to be involved and how close to certainty you want the plan to be.

This technique is highly effective for; 

Annual business plans
Service redesigns
Mergers and acquisitions
Quality improvement plans
Service improvement plans
Departmental plans
Major investments

How to set up a Business Wargame?

The process of setting up and delivering a business wargame is relatively simple and works best when well-constructed and well executed by highly experienced experts.

5-Step Process

Step 1 – The first step is to make contact (see below) to discuss what it is that you want to test and we can talk you through how the process can be applied to your situation.

Step 2 – We would then form a brief and discuss this with the wargaming experts most suited to your particular situation.

Step 3 – With a budget confirmed and a brief in place the logistics of the day/multiple days will be handled.

Step 4 – the Business Wargame(s) would take place and feedback would be taken at the end of the session to make sure that the brief has been achieved and that all participants have been fully involved.

Step 5 – A report will be produced to ensure that all points raised during the session were captured and actions noted.

When multiple days are involved then steps 4 and 5 are repeated for each event, with a different emphasise each time.

Productive People and Quirk Solutions will work closely with your team and tailor
the Business Wargaming process to match your Trust’s needs, objectives and budget.

We can also offer a full service to build your own in house planning capability.