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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Why Scenario Planning?

Everyone likes to plan and carry out those plans efficiently to succeed in life, especially governments, businesses and educational enterprises. When it comes to planning, it depends on the goals that people choose and the path they follow to achieve these goals. To help them in this process, there are drivers that stimulate them and motivate them to progress towards their targets. They take into consideration all the pitfalls and shortcomings, duck and dive and meander around them all the time not losing focus of the target. They learn from past actions, successes and failures and weave a pattern that they implicitly follow so they do not run into the same or similar obstacles that may deny them their glimpse of success. They plan and predict; analyze and strategize all the time making meaningful changes playing along the lines of contemporary and future socio-economic and political happenings. But, despite all this they still fall shy of their targets and end up in a crumpled rubble of disastrous outcomes. 

While strategic planning and risk management; contingency and tactical planning; feasibility and  operational planning; SWOT and TOWS analysis and the like are specialized planning methods they all analyze the present conditions and predict the future. Scenario Planning, on the other hand, is not a mere prediction of the future but the process of discovering a labyrinth of several options that are derived from identifying the trends and drivers and taking into consideration improbabilities and uncertainties  the serve as pathways to achieving the prescribed goals.   

The four kinds of structures for building scenarios are:
  1. The deductive approach which is based on the two most critical uncertainties which then become the axes of a 2 x 2 scenario matrix.
  2. The inductive approach which clusters different events or trends that are typical of an overarching theme, and so develop a composite but consistent picture.
  3. The normative approach which sets up an ‘end-state’ scenario that is either desirable to achieve or to avoid, and then the team identifies what sequence of events might lead to the realization of this outcome.
  4. The incremental approach in which the team maps out the details of “the official future” and then looks for ways that the future could deviate from that path, by reversing one or a few critical assumptions that underpins the official future.


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