Scenario Planning has been a hot method of creating organizational strategy for over 20 years. Recently I was asked to guide a team in a strategic planning process, and the team wanted to use scenario planning. Oops. Not an approach with which I am familiar. So, nerdy me, I started reading Adam Kahane’s book, Working Together to Change the Future: Transformative Scenario Planning. (Thanks to my friend Lisa for this recommendation). It is a short, easy to read summary of the history of scenario planning and the steps needed to implement scenario planning.
Scenario planning involves recruiting a group of people from across a system, including people who hold profoundly differing positions, to identify a variety of possible futures (or scenarios) that are plausible. By identifying a range of both positive and negative futures, the team can then work together to identify ways to reduce the likelihood of negative outcomes, while enhancing the likelihood of a positive outcome. Then everyone takes collective action. Kahane provides the example of scenario planning in the early 90s with key players in the transformation of South Africa to a post-apartheid country.
If you are interested in alternative methods of strategic planning, I strongly suggest that you read Kahane’s book. You might also be interested in Edgar Schein’s book Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling (2013), and Kahanes’ second book, Solving Tough Problems (2004). I’m not sure that reading a book will make me an expert scenario planner, so I’ll just need to try. And I’ll update you on my experiences implementing scenario planning.