Using Scenarios to Plan for Tomorrow

  • Reference: ART-2079-E

  • Number of pages: 8

  • Geographic Setting: China

  • Publication Date: Mar 15, 2012

  • Source: IESE (España)

  • Type of Document: Article

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While business planners often resort to forecasting to estimate outcomes at some future point in time, the author believes forecasting has serious limitations and is not a reliable guide for the long-term future. Instead, he recommends scenario planning as a superior way of envisaging the future, in order to help managers see the business environment more clearly and make better strategic choices. Using the considerable experience of Shell in this area, he sets out a simple seven-step scenario planning process, which managers can use in one day or two half-day workshops. Doing this will bring organizational learning, challenge executive assumptions, broaden management perspectives and help everyone to see the business environment in which they operate as a complex, nonlinear system. This article includes an interview with Angela Wilkinson, who spent a decade as a leading member of Shell’s global scenario team. She shares from her own personal experience of using scenario planning, suggesting who and how many should be on the team, and how often scenarios should be revisited. “In today’s world of uncertainty, it’s not enough just to analyze situations,” she says, hinting at a new approach she calls “collaborative futures.”


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