How to do Scenario Planning?


What is a scenario?

Scenarios are narratives of possible alternative futures. They are like hypothesis asking “what if…” provide a space for discussion and help to build consensus on key issues facing the business and how we might get there. Scenarios are not predictions nor strategies.

Scenarios help to discuss about future conditions, opportunities, threats and obstacles that affect the organisation to achieve their objective. So this process guide the strategy to reach the goal and “possible” change or transform the way the organisation act.

Process to do scenario planning

  1. Assemble your team.
  2. Run the scenario planing workshops, define a clear objective to be reached at the end of the meeting and a time frame.
  3. Produce mini-scenarios, list of “possible” 6 to 9 scenarios. Reduce debate, the objective is brain storming.
  4. Reduce mini-scenarios to 2 to 3 large-scenarios.
  5. Test the scenarios for viability. Do they make sense?.
  6. Prepare presentation of scenarios to key stakeholders.
  7. Validate scenarios with key stakeholders.
  8. Translate the outcome into concrete strategies “What if X happened, what’s is our strategy?“.
  9. Communicate and manage change.
Scenario Planning

Strengths of the process:
  • Can help to identify opportunities.
  • Can act as a checklist during planning to ensure that nothing has been forgotten.
  • Can be used to give early warning to possible changes or threats.
  • Can be used to envisage preferred futures (vision)
  • Allow strategists to say “what if…?” “I like that…”.
  • Allow the ‘undiscussables’ to be discussed.
  • Create a rich and shared picture of the vision.

Weaknesses of the process:

  • Can be difficult to translate the outcomes into concrete decisions.
  • The method is partly based on qualitative information.
  • Beware of focussing too much on the scenarios at the expense of the actual objective for using them.

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