Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Scenario Planning Can't Predict the Future, So What's the Point?

Scenarios can’t predict the future, so what’s the point?
The point is the preparation. The preparation we undertake in case of natural disasters can change the quality of our lives if an event should happen. The plans made, and the resources stockpiled, with different contingencies in mind demonstrate the importance of preparation. And while the illustration does not technically relate to scenario planning, it does highlight the importance of preparation. Scenario planning allows us to plan or prepare for the effects of potential futures. As demonstrated by the Shell company, scenario planning enabled plans and preparations for a possible future, that were extremely valuable.  Scenario planning can provide the opportunity to allow for carefully thought out decisions or action plans for potential events, with considerations for all factors. When faced with an unexpected situation, there is added pressure and stress is increased. Decisions made under these conditions are what I consider reactive decisions, and are not always the best decisions. The Shell company didn’t just get through a difficult situation, they grew and increased their business. While others may have been scrambling around, they already had a plan, and could continue to work with confidence and efficiency. The preparation they undertook was extremely worthwhile and had a significant impact on their company.

(Funnily enough when writing the above the ground started shaking!)


  1. I like your point about reactive decisions. Christchurch would be a strong example for this. A lot of reactive decisions were (and still continue) to be made. Given our governments 3 yr cycle of elections- how many of their decisions could be considered reactive? If we could see inside John Keys office would his scenario planning be for NZ or for the National party? (the same question could be asked of the other parties too). Do they plan for us, the citizens, or for their parties future? I enjoyed reading your post by the way.

  2. Excellent point and good reflection!

    So in theory if we can prepare for a few plausible scenarios (on the assumption that we can't accurately predict the future) we have a better chance that our preparations (current decisions) will provide a better fit for multiple futures.