Scenario Building Martin Rhisiart Cardiff Business School Futures Workshop

Futures Workshop
Turku, 07.06.2006
Scenario Building
Martin Rhisiart
Cardiff Business School
What are scenarios?
 Scenarios are stories or narratives
that portray what might happen, why
it might happen, and with what
 Scenarios can be very powerful tools
to contemplate the range of possible
futures that could develop from the
influence of key drivers, events and
 “a tool for ordering one’s perceptions
about alternative future environments
in which one’s decisions might be
played out” (Schwartz, 1996).
 Herman Kahn, On Thermonuclear War
(1960). RAND – public policy
 Pierre Wack – Royal Dutch/Shell; The
Gentle Art of Reperceiving” –
Why use scenarios?
 Offer a non-linear and dynamic way
of thinking
 Ability to deal with complexity, to
consider multiple variables
simultaneously, and with ‘different
interpretation’ over time
 Counteracts the historical bias of
quantitative forecasting approaches
 Challenge assumptions
Why use scenarios? (II)
 “Scenario thinking, by setting
discussions in a time frame beyond
their current assignment and beyond
facts and forecasts, allows for a
discussion with less defensive
behaviour and a more shared sense
of purpose” (Ringland, 2002)
Why use scenarios? (III)
“Within Shell, I think the imperative is to use this
tool to gain deeper insights into our global business
environment and to achieve the cultural change
that is at the heart of our Group strategy. We face
real challenges in the future, we will all need to be
able to respond to changing circumstances and
make informed and rigorous judgements about our
decisions: these scenarios and methodology will
help us to do that better.”
Jeroen van der Veer (2005), in global scenarios
report (to 2025)
Epistemological basis
 Work of neuro-biologists suggests
that humans are natural scenariobuilding animals – ability to tell
stories about ourselves in the future;
cognitive link to speech capacity in
the brain
Objectives and main uses
 Development of strategy and policy –
 Heuristic device – ‘re-perceiving’ – in
organisational change
 Stimulate critical thinking, challenge
assumptions – within organisations,
the general population
 Varies according to organisational
needs, question addressed and
themes covered; generally 3-5, 10,
20, even 50 years, e.g. mediumlonger term
 CIA, Global Trends (2015)
 Shell, Energy needs, choices and
possibilities (2050)
Synergy with other tools
 Scenario building often makes use of
other tools, e.g. forecasting/
quantitative; expert opinion;
stakeholder opinions etc)
Benefits of using scenarios
 Thinking “outside in” – big, external
 Creating common language and
understanding – working across
disciplines, departments etc
 Organisational alignment to vision
 Develop group of people with ability
to think strategically
Methodology and implementation
 Several scenario building
methodologies have been developed
 Implementation procedure cited here
is a common approach, developed by
Schwartz (1996) and Ringland (2002)
Implementation steps
 Step 1: Identify the focal issue or
 Step 2: Key forces in the local
environment (microenvironment)
 Step 3: Driving forces (macro
 Step 4: Rank by importance and
Implementation steps
 Step 5: Selecting scenario logics
Social fragmentation
Digital cohesion
New Solidarity
Implementation steps
 Step 6: Fleshing out the scenarios
 Step 7: Implications
 Step 8: Selection of leading indicators
and signposts
Implementation procedure
 Step 9: Feed the scenarios back to
those consulted
 Step 10: Discuss the strategic options
 Step 11: Agree the implementation
 Step 12: Publicise the scenarios
How many scenarios?
 “Scenarios are not conceived of one at
a time. You develop a range of two or
three possible futures, allowing you to
address an array of possibilities and
rehearse your responses to each of
them. At the same time, more than
four scenarios tend to be too complex:
you cannot keep track of their
ramifications in your mind” (Schwartz)
Case studies
1. Border, Midland and
Western Region,
2. Countryside
Council for