Sunday, October 7, 2007

Lois Rosewood: Scenario Practice & How to Build Scenarios

"Scenario Practice" by Art Kleiner

I really enjoyed reading this article. I tend to think in 'contingency plans.' I especially developed this skill when I created a large community event which involved about 1,000 people. I thought of everything that could go wrong and then I strategized to try to prevent those things from happening and/or came up with plans for dealing with them if they did. As a result, that community event was a success.

In addition to my 'contingency plan' focus I also liked Kleiner's focus on "What strategies would be effective now, to build up the capabilities and lay the groundwork for a better life, no matter which of those futures came to pass?" This kind of thinking is what helps us remember to save or invest our money wisely, or perhaps research the reliability history of a particular type of car before purchasing it.

Reading this article helped me brainstorm over half a dozen predetermined driving forces and critical uncertainties for my group's project.

I enjoyed reading the "Everyday Scenario Planning" section about dealing with traffic jams because that is how I think all the time. I live next to one of the busiest sections of freeway in northern California (Interstate 80 through Berkeley) so I'm constantly aware of traffic patterns, short cuts, etc. I liked his line, "You opt for the route with the most alternative paths, so that you have the most flexibility." I like that strategy as a general guideline in many situations.

"How to Build Scenarios" by Lawrence Wilkinson

I learned from this article that "the purpose of scenario planning is not to pinpoint future events but to highlight large-scale forces that push the future in different directions." This article stressed that "The point of listing the driving forces is to look past the everyday crises" because "It is these powerful [driving] forces that will usually catch us unaware."

I learned the phrase "long fuse, big bang" in this article to describe organizational decisions which will have a major impact on the future, but exactly what that impact will be cannot be known for years. I learned how scenario planning is a tool that can help make those important decisions and strategies that will hold up in a number of possible futures. I also learned that for the strategies or decisions "that make sense in only one or some of the scenarios" it's important to "know the 'early warning signs' that tell us those scenarios are beginning to unfold."

This is the article for which I found a PDF version which clearly showed the future scenario matrix and I emailed a link to that PDF version to everyone in class:

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