Overview of the Stages in Scenario Building for Organizations

Extracted  from the Art of the Long View, by Peter Schwartz and Scenarios: the Art of Strategic Conversation, by Kees Van der Heijden, and including some ToP methods for each stage.

  1. Identify a focal issue or decision for the organization.
  2. Identify factors influencing success or failure. This can be through identifying trends, eg. plotting observations on the Social Process Triangles.  (See https://ica-associates.ca/understanding-trends/ for an understanding of how observations lead to trends)
  3. Identify primary “driving forces” at work in the present. Trends can be clustered to see larger “meta-trends” that are driving the emerging future
  4. Identify 2-3 factors and/or driving forces that are most important and uncertain. This can be done through a focused conversation on the meta-trends.
  5. Map the key “scenario drivers” to come up with the “fundamental axes of critical uncertainties” leading to 3-4 very different plausible scenarios of directions the world might go in. (This is often a messy and intuitive process.)
  6. Flesh out these 3-4 scenarios – create a narrative for each of a plausible future and name it.
  7. Look at each scenario for the impact on the focal issue or decision – its robustness and vulnerability in that scenario. Adapt strategies to position the organization to be in the best possible situation no matter which scenario comes true.
  8. Identify indicators to periodically monitor which scenario is emerging and adapt strategies accordingly.

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