Scenario Planning: A Field Guide to the Future
Scenario planning is a fascinating, yet still underutilized, business tool that can be of immense value to a company's strategic planning process. It allows companies to visualize the impact that a portfolio of possible futures could have on their competitiveness. It helps decision-makers see opportunities and threats that could emerge beyond their normal planning horizon. Scenario Planning serves as a guide to taking a long-term look at your business, your industry, and the world, posing thoughtful questions about the possible consequences of some current (and possible future) trends. This book will help you:
- Outline (and help you prepare for) any trends that could play out in the future that could change the political, social, and economic landscapes and significantly impact your business
- Explore the impact of technological advances and the emergence of new competitors to your business
- Examine challenges that are only dimly recognizable as potential problems today
This visual book will help you answer this question: Is my organization ready for every possibility?
Albert Einstein may have been a great scientist, but if he’d been a businessman, he’d have lost his job.
CHAPTER 1 ESCAPING THE TYRANNY OF THE PRESENT 6
Conventional forecasting and projections won’t help you see much beyond next Tuesday. Scenario planning, on the other hand, won’t nail down the future, either, but there is no such thing as the future, anyway, so that’s all right. Instead, by helping you explore alternative futures, scenario planning will help you see what could happen, so you’ll be better prepared to deal with it.
CHAPTER 2 HOW-TO 26
Start to fi nish, here’s how the process works. (You’ll still want an expert facilitator. My e-mail is email@example.com.)
CHAPTER 3 CASE STUDIES: THE REAL WORLD 64
These four organizations used scenario planning to explore how the future might unfold for a country, an economic sector, an industry, and a company.
CHAPTER 4 BLACK SWANS 140
History turns on events that are extremely rare yet have huge consequences. The same is probably true of your company’s future.
CHAPTER 5 ARE YOU READY? 156
Most books about the future are full of predictions. “Just you watch: This will happen.” This book isn’t. Instead, it poses some questions about what could happen.
POSTSCRIPT THINKING THE UNTHINKABLE 186
A failure of imagination can have tragic results.
WOODY WADE heads Wade & Co., a management consultancy focused on business foresight, and frequently speaks on the topic of future trends. With an MBA from Harvard Business School, he has more than thirty years of business experience, specifically in international marketing and strategy development. He has worked for two Swiss private banks; served as a member of the executive board of the Geneva-based World Economic Forum; and was the marketing director of the world-renowned Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne.
When asked about his expectations for the future, Albert Einstein replied, "The future?...Oh, I never think about the future. It will be here soon enough". Imagine the CEO of your company saying that to the board of directors. Einstein's laissez-faire reply was not uncommon, especially coming from a scientist whose approach was based on facts. As a scientist, the "who-cares-let's-wait-and-see" mentality worked. However, in today's world - that attitude coming from a business leader would be of major concern.
Woody Wade, author of Sceanrio Planning introduces readers to this scenario. He makes it clear that any decision made by business leaders today, have to concentrate on improving future performace based on potential outcomes. Wade gives readers the ability to look beyond the present and anticipate the future.
Take a moment and think about the future. The next 10 years, to be precise. What do you think will happen on the world stage in the next 10 years that might affect you? In that time period, a number of trends are going to play out, changing the landscape in dozens of ways - politically, socially, economically. We will have made technological advances. We will have myriad new products to buy. We will face challenges that are maybe only dimly recognizable as potential problems today. Have you thought about these changes? Are you and your organization ready for them?
Scenario planning is a fascinating, yet underutilized, business tool that can be of immense value to a company's strategic planning process. It gives companies a chance to explore how the future could plausibly unfold in several different ways, and helps them visualize the implications that each scenario in this portfolio of possible futures could have on the company's fortunes.
It therefore helps decision-makers see opportunities and threats that could emerge a bit beyond their normal planning horizon. Scenario planning recognizes that at any point in time, there is not one single future that is certain to develop, but an array of possible futures that could potentially unfold.
Scenario Planning helps organizations open their eyes to different ways the future might develop. Readers will be more likely to make flexible, thoughtful, and better decisions today.
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