The future is unpredictable. Nobody can tell what’s going to happen tomorrow, for sure. This, as true as it is, doesn’t necessarily mean we can’t try to imagine possible outcomes given past experiences and current trends and signals. That’s where scenario planning is probably the best framework to provide the foundations of evidence-based potential situations that can help us make decisions when any (or a mix) of those outcomes become real at any point.
A well-known and seasoned futurist such as Peter Schwartz in his book ‘The Art Of The Long View: Planning For The Future In An Uncertain World’ explains, through examples and ready-to-use techniques, how to create scenarios, how to develop such a mindset and, most importantly, how to be very sharp to examine the unspoken beliefs of the future.
From my point of view, the most interesting is that scenarios are possible when we take input from technological, economic, cultural, political factors and psychology, grounding them in evidence. It takes a lot of reading and discussing ideas (in ‘strategic conversations’, as he calls them)
‘Informal, explicit, relevant and fun. A strategic conversation is a carefully thought-out but loosely facilitated series of in-depth conversations for the key decision-makers throughout an organization. Strategic conversations don’t exist in addition to existing planning efforts; they are effective ways of framing the planning efforts that already take place, to further illuminate the decisions that are already being made.’
The future of scenarios is just scenarios about the future.
The Art of the Long View
by Peter Schwartz
Far from an attempt to predict the future with a crystal ball, this book equips the reader with a framework to articulate potential outcomes taking into account the current data points available and perspectives. As a researcher, it’s been a delightful read.
288 pages, Bantam Dell Publishing Group, Div of Random House, 1996
Get this book here on Amazon!