The future is uncertain and may develop in fundamentally different ways. Some of these “possible futures” may provide unexpected possibilities. This insight has caused parties in extremely polarised situations – such as South Africa and Guatemala – to get out of their trenches and start building a peaceful future together.
Perspectivity collaborates with scenario planning experts to help solving complex problems and breaking deadlocks within social communities.
What is scenario planning?
Participants in a scenario process together identify several “possible futures” (scenarios). Subsequently, they ask themselves what actions they can take (options) and what effect these actions would have in the different scenarios.
Why it works
Building and discussing scenarios allows for open reflection on the future and sharing of new insights with other parties. This enhances understanding for each other’s problems and desires, creative breakthroughs and even forgiveness for nearly unforgivable actions in the past.
A breakthrough because it takes on one of the greatest challenges of our time: finding a way to solve the problems we have created.
Adam Kahane about his work as facilitator of the Mont-Fleur scenarios in South Africa.
Process and method
Scenario planning is a thoroughly designed process, that encompasses several sessions and may take up months. The process generally comprises the following steps:
- Preparation (stakeholder interviews to identify the main issue)
- Composing the scenario team (including direct stakeholders and external experts)
- First workshop – Formulating the scenario agenda, key question, ‘the system’, biggest uncertainties leading to the first generation scenarios
- Creating a second generation of scenarios
- Second Workshop – Discussing and adjusting the second generation scenarios
- Third workshop – Implications and challenges of the scenarios; developing options
- Step 7: Follow-up
This text is partly based on training sessions provided to Perspectivity by Peter Schütte. Schütte is a former member of the Shell Scenario Planning Team. He now works as an independent consultant and as a professor for strategic studies at Neijenrode University. More info: schuette.nl.
- Download the Scenario Planning handout (pdf)