!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: Scenario Planning as a Mind Opener

Friday, August 21, 2009

Scenario Planning as a Mind Opener

On July 22, Knowledge@Wharton published an excellent overview of how scenario planning can help companies maintain a state of preparedness despite the uncertainties that figure so prominently in today's business environment.

My own copy of the article is so heavily highlighted that I know it's something I must recommend reading in its entirety — it's only about four pages. I'll simply highlight two main themes:
  • Scenario planning is a way of gaining strategic flexibility in the face of an uncertain future.

    "... some companies ...have developed a competitive advantage by leveraging scenario planning — first in stimulating discussion about potential outcomes arising from the swirling mix of trends shaping the world, and then in establishing monitoring mechanisms to identify which scenario is starting to unfold. In the end, the major objectives for these companies are to minimize surprises and to consistently anticipate — and act on — major emerging opportunities and challenges, ahead of competitors."

  • The leaders of a company need to be directly involved in the scenario planning process so that they are forced to examine their assumptions about how the world works and to experience what's involved in analyzing data with an open mind.

    The artcle quotes Kristel Van der Elst, head of the scenario planning team at the World Economic Forum: "You end up changing how people think. The long-term benefit is that you open up people's minds ..."
If you'd like to take a look at the sample set of scenarios cited in the article, you can find the paper in question — "Scenarios for the Downturn & Rebound," by Rob-Jan de Jong and Paul J.H. Schoemakerhere (pdf).


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