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Two fascinating books on decision making

April 19, 2017

I have recently been thinking about how decisions are made, and thought it would be worth sharing some of what I have learnt from two books – Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman (2011) and The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis (2017)

Reading Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman will challenge your understanding of decision making. It is not an easy read – 500 pages of small print and dense text – but perseverance is worth it and after the first chapter or two you should get hooked by the revelations about how bad our brains can be when we make decisions. But it may be easier to start with Michael Lewis’ latest book.

Michael Lewis, the author of The Big Short, Flash Boys and other books about the financial system, describes the work, background and the personal relationship of Kahneman and his late colleague and friend Amos Tversky. They were both Jewish children in WW2 and fought for Israel in Middle Eastern wars of the 1950s, 60s and 70s. They were also brilliant psychologists who early in their careers developed better ways for the Israeli military to select and train their forces. Later their work on Prospect Theory which amongst other things shows that people value gains less than equal losses led to a Nobel Prize in economics.

Lewis reveals their story about how these two very different people, one charismatic and outgoing the other quiet and withdrawn, worked together to give new insights into how we act and how we make decisions. They showed that people do not think statistically, wrongly find causality in unrelated events, are prone to over confidence and make poor decisions based on information readily available rather than looking for sufficient evidence. They showed that, contrary to economic wisdom, people do not always behave rationally and they can be credited with the development of the discipline of Behavioural Economics.

Lewis reveals enough of their academic insights to make you want to find out more. Kahneman’s book gives the rest. He talks about their work which he links to other people’s research on the same issues so providing a clear summary of the state of knowledge in 2011. The book is likely to make you question what you thought you knew and make you wish you knew what you have just learned when you were younger.

Written by Paul Moxey, SAMI Fellow.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily of SAMI Consulting.

If you enjoyed this blog from SAMI Consulting, the home of scenario planning, please sign up for our monthly newsletter at eSAMIsignup@samiconsulting.co.uk and/or browse our website at http://www.samiconsulting.co.uk

Dealing with uncertainty

April 12, 2017

Uncertainty is very topical: research by the European Central Bank shows that 20% of market fluctuations are caused by uncertainty. In the UK one third of business owners admit that uncertainty ahead of Article 50 is their biggest concern. In Europe there is uncertainty over the outcome of elections this year in France, Holland and Germany. There is now even uncertainty about future cohesion of the member states of the EU as a trading bloc.

Add to this the uncertainty many Muslims feel about whether they will be welcome in the US under the new administration; plus the uncertainty British farmers feel about their future once EU farming subsidies are removed. The pound has fallen in value by 20% since the Brexit referendum, and food prices in the shops are beginning to rise. Producers, distributors and retailers having absorbed some of the increase to date, are finally passing it on to the consumer.

Our weekly shopping basket is beginning to feel expensive and families will buy less and switch products with inflation adding to our sense of un-affordability. Where does this leave the food supply chain for the EU and UK which have been inter-twined for over 40 years? How do you unbundle years of trade agreements on price controls, safety standards and quotas? The policy makers are no more certain about the future than the electorate, uncertainty ‘trumps’ all other worries.

What is uncertainty?

The future is unknown and unknowable, yet we treat uncertainty in different ways. Sometimes we reduce uncertainty through analysis or calculation, sometimes through guesswork or intuition. Governments and corporations buy forecasts from market analysts, economists and sociologists look for cycles and patterns which indicate a probable future outcome. There are millions of people in the Far East who consider astrology, or planet alignment, to have some bearing on the future. Everyone wants a coping strategy going forward.

The question is not how to remove uncertainty but how to reduce it, that is what early maritime insurance underwriters recognised when Lloyds was established in London in the 1690s. The history of the risk industry is bound up with how we respond to fear of an unknown future and the value we put on security through certainty. Some types of uncertainty can be reduced through careful analysis of available information, some by acquisition of supplementary information. These are either ‘known-knowns’ or ‘known-unknowns’.

Some types of uncertainty are harder to reduce as vital information remains unknown to us. We don’t recognise the type of information we need although it probably exists, we just don’t appreciate its relevance to our current dilemma, these are called ‘unknown-knowns’. The final and most difficult type of uncertainty to deal with is one that we haven’t even recognised yet. This falls beyond our comprehension and is not even identified as something we should know. A category Donald Rumsfeld succinctly called ‘unknown-unknowns’.

Dealing with uncertainty

To effectively reduce uncertainty we therefore need to recognise the appropriate cause of uncertainty and recognise where we need to focus attention to reduce uncertainty. The first type or ‘known-knowns’ just require a bit of analysis or interpretation of what we’ve already got. This is a kind of measurable uncertainty that can be reduced to an acceptable level of certainty.

The second type of uncertainty includes all ‘known-unknowns’. These highlight knowledge gaps like missing jigsaw pieces. We know what we don’t know in the sense that we appreciate and recognise the information needed to complete the picture, to provide insight necessary to make informed judgement. These missing pieces are known about although we don’t yet have them; this is why the known-unknowns can most usefully be called ‘jigsaw’ uncertainty.

The third type of uncertainty incorporates ‘unknown-knowns’. Here the uncertainty is caused because we fail to appreciate what is needed to complete the picture; this despite the existence of information to fill our knowledge gaps. The missing knowledge exists but we don’t appreciate it or have looked in the wrong place, hence it remains unknown to us. Data from political, economic, social or technical sources exist, but we just haven’t identified it as necessary.

The fourth type of uncertainty we call ‘unknown-unknowns’ are the uncertainties we don’t even acknowledge. The risks that never appear on the risk register because we haven’t even considered their possibility. Within this category lie many uncertainties that we don’t need to consider, but some we ought to. The only way to contemplate these is to think ‘outside the box’ and imagine ourselves from a completely different perspective. These are the hardest to reconcile.

Resolving problems

Uncertainty creates ambiguity and this creates problems for us. Keith Grint in his 2008 book ‘Wicked problems and clumsy solutions’ identified these three types. There are Tame problems which are answerable because a solution is attainable. There are Critical problems that require a leader to marshal resources necessary to solve the problem. Then there are Wicked problems.

Wicked problems are those where there is no answer, complex challenges that demand an enormous amount of resource and analytical competence to even begin to resolve. Much global uncertainty today falls into this category. Certainties on which two or three generations have relied are now no longer valid. What ‘trumps’ uncertainty ….better than anything? False certainty…. We need to learn how to live with risk without fear!

Written by Garry Honey, Chiron Risk CEO and SAMI Associate.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily of SAMI Consulting.

If you enjoyed this blog from SAMI Consulting, the home of scenario planning, please sign up for our monthly newsletter at eSAMIsignup@samiconsulting.co.uk and/or browse our website at http://www.samiconsulting.co.uk

The Future of Work in Health – Part 3

April 4, 2017

This is the last of three blogs leading up to a forum on the future of work in health. In this one, David Lye, Director and Fellow of SAMI, and a former Senior NHS Manager and Department of Health official, identifies a few key questions posed by changes in society, technology and other dynamics.

The story so far…

In his blog, David Smith, CEO of Global Futures and Foresight, highlighted the rapid and accelerating changes taking place in the world of work and technology. In the second blog, I identified a number of the key factors that will drive change in health care – social, technological environmental, economic and political.

The Overriding Question … “So What?”

We know that the world of work is changing, and we know that there are currents of change that will affect the worlds of health and social care. These factors lead us inevitably to the question of how they will change the world we know.

What We know

We can probably be sure of some things. The ageing population will drive up demand for health care. More people living with comorbidities; more people living alone; more people living with dementia.

The march of technology will drive up the number of new treatments some will be incremental improvements on current options, whilst some – genetech, biotech and nanotech, for example, will seem like miracle cures. This flood of innovation will add a further cost pressure to the pressure of the ageing population.

There is no immediate prospect of a windfall of extra funding to help the NHS to absorb these pressures, although no doubt battles will be fought in the trenches of UK politics. NHS England’s publication, “Next Steps on the NHS Five Year Forward View”, published last week, recognises the need for the NHS to change, and to look again at its priorities.

So we face the likelihood of a world of rising demand, new opportunities (at a cost) and little prospect of a financial windfall.

What We Don’t Know

The future health of our health system will therefore depend on how it can adapt to these challenges, making use of the opportunities of new technology to provide services in ways that are better and more efficient. Here are some of the questions to which we don’t know the answer, but which will determine how successful we are in the future.

The Patient of the Future

The market is awash with apps and wearables that claim to help us to keep a closer watch on our vital signs, diet, exercise, sleep patterns etc. How far will this lead to a change in lifestyles? And what proportion of the population will refuse to engage in proactive management of their health? How can health services best encourage and support the willing, and try to convert the unwilling?

The Clinician of the Future

Given the ability of artificial intelligence to absorb entire libraries of information and to diagnose more quickly and accurately than humans, what will change in terms of what clinicians need to do, and need to know? Will significant areas of the current professional training curricula become redundant? What new skills will be needed? How will boundaries between different professions change?

Will the current boundaries between primary, secondary, tertiary and social care need to shift? For example, will primary care become accessible from the patient’s home – or wherever they happen to be? Will traditional secondary care services, such as diagnostics, be centralised? Will advances in AI and robotics mean that some services will become less labour-intensive (the NHS paybill is over £45 billion)?

Research in the Future

How to ensure that different technologies and strands of research can join up and allow cross-fertilisation? And how to ensure a safe and efficacious transfer from the laboratory to the clinic. How will funding streams and licensing/regulatory systems need to change? How do undergraduate and graduate syllabuses need to adapt to produce the researchers of the future?

Managing for the Future

The NHS and social care have been very resistant to radical change. How to ensure that change can be adopted more quickly, without compromising safety and efficacy? How to persuade the public and the staff who work in health and social care to support changes to the status quo? How to prioritise the massive change agenda facing services?

As John Maynard Keynes exclaimed:

“The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones’

The workshop on 6 April will begin to address how we can distance ourselves from the bondage of established dogma and start to explore the questions posed above. We will report on the outcome in a future blog. But undoubtedly there will need to be a lot more concentrated and continuing thought, and we will be looking for ways to foster and contribute to that debate.

Written by David Lye, SAMI Fellow.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily of SAMI Consulting.

If you enjoyed this blog from SAMI Consulting, the home of scenario planning, please sign up for our monthly newsletter at eSAMIsignup@samiconsulting.co.uk and/or browse our website at http://www.samiconsulting.co.uk

The Future of Work in Health – Part 2

March 29, 2017

This is the second of three blogs leading up to a forum on the future of work in health. In this one, David Lye, Director and Fellow of SAMI, and a former Senior NHS Manager and Department of Health official, looks at the trends and factors that will drive change in the way that health and social care will need to work.

The story so far…

In his blog, David Smith, CEO of Global Futures and Foresight, put the world of health into the wider context of applied technology across the wider corporate world. He highlighted the rapid and accelerating changes taking place – noting the prediction that in ten years’ time, 75% of companies in the S&P 500 in will be ones that are not there now. More specifically to health, he noted the observation by Professor Nick Jennings of Imperial College that the rate at which medical knowledge is being generated is doubling every 18 months.

The STEEP Drivers of Change

Looking forward over the next 15-20 years, it is clear that rapid technological advances will drive significant change in the way that health and care services need to operate – and therefore the way that people work within those services, but there is more than technology at play here. Taking the STEEP (social, technological, environmental, economic and political) headings as a primer, we can see key drivers of change across all the headings.

Social

According to the Office for National Statistics, the population of the UK will grow from 64.6m in 2014 to 73.9m in 2039. The median age will rise from 40 to 43. One in 12 of the population will be aged 80 or over.

By 2040 we should be well on the way to being a “post-smoking” society, but there is rising incidence of obesity and its associated illnesses, such as diabetes. An aging population will have a range of different conditions (comorbidities). The over-80s will have a rising demand for social care among the ageing baby-boomers (of whom this author is one). Baby-boomers will be more vocal and demanding service users than their parents’ generation have been.

If there is great instability in the world of work, and greater job insecurity, we can expect a rise in the incidence of mental illness.

Generations X and Y will become the leaders of health care. Last year’s junior doctors’ strikes indicated they may bring a different attitude to their employment. And if Brexit leads to reductions in immigration, this will potentially affect the available pool of NHS and social care staffing. Currently the UK is neither self-sufficient in doctors or nurses. The UK needs 11,000 new doctors each year. UK medical schools train just 7,500.

Technological

Technological change is accelerating. In modern health care the pharmaceutical industry, and the suppliers of medical devices and equipment are joined by Google, whose Deep Mind is being piloted at Moorfields Eye Hospital in London and elsewhere, IBM, whose Watson is being piloted in healthcare around the world, including Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, and many other smaller innovators in IT and artificial intelligence.

Technology will allow quicker and more accurate diagnoses, more thorough scanning for potential drug interactions – important in a population with more comorbidities – and do the routine work of trawling through medical records and test results, quickly and effectively. In the private sector, Babylon is offering AI-based online consultations.

Alongside artificial intelligence, big data is getting bigger – the digital universe is doubling every two years. The ability to hold more data adds to the need for AI machines to mine it.

Robots are being deployed as care and nursing assistants in Japan, as porters in hospitals, and have been piloted within UK hospital pharmacies as far back as 2010.

These technologies empower the patient too. Implants and wearables – such as 24/7 blood sugar screening for people with diabetes, allow people to become partners in their own health care, rather than passive recipients of care. Not all will choose to do so, but the uptake of apps, fitbits etc suggests that most will.

Genetic advances have allowed personalised medicine, pre-diagnosis, targeted treatments for cancer, and gene splicing to address hereditary conditions. Nanotech will allow micro-invasive techniques for screening, diagnosis and treatment. Biotech is opening up the possibility of much-needed new anti-microbial treatments. And 3-D printing and robotics together are beginning to open up the prospect of exoskeletons. There is a constant wow factor on medical websites today as we look forward to a world in which the blind will see and the lame will walk.

Environmental

Advances in technology will change the way in which services can be delivered. People will welcome the chance to access services digitally.

More generally, the change in the infrastructure of urban and rural Britain will impact on health care. If drones can deliver pizzas and shoes, then why can’t they also deliver prescriptions? Will advances in renewable energy lead to better air quality – and thus improve the health of children and other vulnerable people?

On a global scale, might there be major effects of climate change that trigger major migrations? The continent with the fastest population growth in this century will be Africa. Mass-migrations are likely to be towards Europe. This would change the UK’s population figures, add to the pool of younger working-age people, and change the health profile of the population.

Economic

Aside from the economic news of today – Brexit, Trump, a growing sentiment against globalisation – the wider impact of the so-called 4th Industrial Revolution will be felt more and more. We have seen a shift in the balance between capital and labour, favouring “the few” relative to “the many”.

Whilst the changing demography of the UK will drive up demand for health and social care, the availability of public funding lies with the politicians. In this they will be influenced by tax revenues, which are in part, down to the state of the national economy, but also to the ability of the government to collect taxes.

The pressures are real, but the economic outlook is uncertain.

Political

Many of the pressures and drivers above will depend in part on political responses. For example the post-Brexit policy on immigration will affect the availability of staff, or force an increased investment in recruitment and education & training among UK citizens. Government will determine how much money it can afford to invest in health and social care, and the relative priority against other demands for public spending.

Government will use its influence to drive the pace of investment in new technologies and determine the legal framework in which new technologies, such as genetic sciences, are able to operate.

The Government should also recognise the potential strength of the UK as a clinical science and research base, which will be enhanced by the application of AI and big data to the national hospital episode statistical data – which is a unique global resource.

This very brief and high-level overview illustrates how much change is going to have an impact on the health care services that we know. In the final blog, we will start to identify some possible areas in which the world of work will change.

Written by David Lye, SAMI Fellow.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily of SAMI Consulting.

If you enjoyed this blog from SAMI Consulting, the home of scenario planning, please sign up for our monthly newsletter at eSAMIsignup@samiconsulting.co.uk and/or browse our website at http://www.samiconsulting.co.uk

Roadmapping the future of mobility

March 22, 2017

I was delighted to work with Cambridge University’s Institute for Manufacturing (IfM) to facilitate a pilot event to be called ALFI. This stands for Alternative Futures Insights. The Round Table was initiated by Anna-Marie Greenaway, Director of International University and the topic chosen for the first UK pilot was on the future of mobility – for people and freight.

The Round Table was at the end of February at the Møller Centre, at Churchill College Cambridge: I had not been there before – it is really well organized for our sort of event, with very helpful staff used to providing for the range of people that we gathered together. These included academics from Anna’s network and Dr Nicky Athanassopoulou’s network at IfM, experts on transport from the European Commission, and futurists. From BP, Mike Muskett, Distinguished Advisor Downstream Technology and Dr Dan Walker, Head of Emerging Technology and members of his team joined the lively discussions.

After introductions over a sociable dinner at St Johns College, the next day we tackled an agenda integrating two different methodologies – scenario planning and road-mapping on the topic of “what mobility in Europe might look like by 2040 for both people and goods”.

Scenario planning traces its history back to just after the Second World War, when Hermann Kahn pioneered the technique of “future-now” thinking, aiming through the use of detailed analysis plus imagination to produce a report as it might be written by people living in the future, to promote debate on nuclear weapons. Since then the method has been used extensively for creating future mental models to improve the quality of decision-making.

Roadmapping is a powerful technique regularly used by companies, government organisations and academic institutions to establish and support strategy and innovation. Roadmapping explores, manages and communicates the linkages between technology, research and product development to commercial objectives and market opportunities through a structured visual framework.

Roadmapping blog

We started by emphasizing that scenarios are not forecasts and went on to use Three Horizons to capture drivers of change important for the future of mobility to 2040. The Third Horizon social and economic drivers were used to form the scenario axes. In principle, the technology-based drivers from all Three Horizons would be then examined in all the scenarios, using the road-mapping process. In practice, due to time pressure, we used the scenarios to highlight technologies implicit in their development and did not get time to examine those generated through the drivers discussion. These were however captured for the write-up.

The workshop used the Strategic-Plan (S-Plan) framework developed by the IfM over a period of several years [[1], [2]]. The framework was configured to elicit the emerging technology implications from each scenario developed and evaluate which technologies maybe important for several scenarios.

If you are interested in finding out more, please contact either Nicky Athanassopoulou (naa14@cam.ac.uk) or Gill Ringland (gill.ringland@btinternet.com)

References:

[1] Phaal, R., Farrukh, C.J.P. and Probert, D.R. (2004), “Customizing Roadmapping”, Research Technology Management, 47 (2), pp. 26–37.

[2] Phaal, R., Farrukh, C.J.P. and Probert, D.R. (2007), “Strategic Roadmapping: A workshop-based approach for identifying and exploring innovation issues and opportunities”, Engineering Management Journal, 19 (1), pp. 16–24.

Written by Gill Ringland, SAMI Fellow and CEO.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily of SAMI Consulting.

If you enjoyed this blog from SAMI Consulting, the home of scenario planning, please sign up for our monthly newsletter at eSAMIsignup@samiconsulting.co.uk and/or browse our website at http://www.samiconsulting.co.uk

Work Automation

March 15, 2017

This is the first of three blogs leading up to a forum on the future of work in health. IN this first blog, David Smith, Chief Executive of Global Futures and Foresight, looks at the wider context of automation in the workplace and its impact

DS blog

The rate of change is such that by 2027, 75 percent of the companies in the S&P 500 are predicted to be companies that are not in the index today. Adapting to the underlying economic, technological and social changes that are reshaping the world of work will be critical for incumbents wishing to survive and thrive.

One major area of change obviously lies with technology; not so much with the technology per se but in what it enables organisations to do. Many of the technologies underpinning digital transformation are relatively prosaic yet nine in ten organisations in 2016 still reported the implementation of digital transformation as a significant challenge, with 70 percent of these citing internal complexity as an inhibiting factor . In addition, a wide range of ostensibly differing industries and professions possess a common set of characteristics that are open to codification and thus automation. How such organisations can successfully merge artificial intelligence (AI) and humans to work together remains an infinitely bigger task than the digital changes made thus far, and one that few seem prepared for.

The organisational and leadership implications of artificial intelligence are enormous. Jobs, processes, the relationship with consumers, patients, citizens and organisational models will all be reworked by artificial intelligence. Indeed, PwC says 64 percent of CEOs believe that robotics will bring new innovations to their business models. Crafting models that enable a given organisation to frame these challenges as opportunities – and then to capitalise on them – will be a huge task, requiring multidisciplinary thought and genuine innovation.

Such changes may in fact be necessary for the organisation to evolve at the same rate as its wider environment. The rate at which medical knowledge is being generated is estimated to be doubling every 18 months. This gives practitioners little chance to stay abreast of all developments, even within their field of expertise. Even medical students stand little chance in the current educational set-up, since the time from acceptance in a program to graduation is likely to see a doubling of medical knowledge twice over. The ability of algorithms to help deliver the most relevant details and updates to doctors (as well as for students), on-demand and on a case-by-case basis holds great potential.

There is also the possibility, that, along with other trends, emerging AI will open new possibilities in future medical business and organisational models. AI capability is advancing at such a rate that as many as 47 percent of jobs (or at least the tasks within them) will be highly susceptible to automation over the next two decades. In 2016, an autonomous robot surgeon bested human doctors in stitching up pig intestine. In addition, haptically enabled robots, able to touch and feel, have enabled remote diagnosis and abdominal ultrasound imaging. Alone these developments are not enough to constitute an immediate threat to the current model. It is, however, worth recounting that in their seminal study, Osbourne and Frey suggested surgeons and physicians were amongst the least likely of all professions to be automated, at 0.42 percent. This clearly suggests that even within those jobs unlikely to be fully automated, automation is likely to feature alongside the human worker.

Automation is likely to contribute to a quickening ‘skills turnover’ in the coming years. A Deloitte survey found that 75 percent of executives believe that automation will require new skills over the next several years. The ability for the organisation at large to change successfully is questionable however, much as it is with the related digital transformation process. Only 13 percent of executives believe their organisation’s capabilities to redesign work done by computers to complement talent are excellent. By contrast, 34 percent see them as weak. The friction, between what is needed and what is organisationally possible will account for much turbulence.

As a result, ‘…in the Next Economy, companies (will) use technology to augment workers, not just to replace them, so that they can do things that were previously impossible,’ says Tim O’Reilly. Given that flatter and even decentralized work structures are better equipped to cope with ambiguity, speed and evolving digital norms, it is quite likely that much work will occur within team units. Bain predicts that ‘…by 2027, most work will be project-based, with agile teams (internal and external) the dominant unit.’ Designing for this will be key, with GE Healthcare’s Chief Patent Officer Greg Petroff, noting that design thinking should be used ‘…to have multidisciplinary teams frame the problem space more accurately. It’s a great process for stakeholder alignment,’ he suggests. Healthcare is set for radical change, and carefully planned and implemented AI solutions may be key to a successful transformation.

In the next two blogs we will look at the social, technological and environmental changes that will drive change in health care; and then look at specific potential impacts on the work that professionals and others do in health and social care.

Written by David Smith, Chief Executive, Global Futures and Foresight.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily of SAMI Consulting.

If you enjoyed this blog, sign up for our monthly newsletter at eSAMIsignup@samiconsulting.co.uk and/or browse our website at http://www.samiconsulting.co.uk

 

Re-using scenarios in strategy

March 10, 2017

Scenarios are the most powerful vehicles I know for challenging our mental models about the world and lifting he blinkers that limit our creativity and resourcefulness” Peter Schwartz

The Strategic Foresight method that is most widely taught in Business and Management Schools is scenario planning or scenario thinking. In this module we explore when and how to build and use scenarios as part of a Strategic Foresight toolkit. It is largely self contained but assumes a knowledge of environmental/horizon scanning. It covers some of the well known examples of scenario thinking in action as well as many other examples. It is an extensively updated and extended version of a brief that appeared in “Business: the ultimate resource”, ISBN 978-1-4081-2811-4.

What is scenario thinking? Scenarios as models of future worlds

Scenario thinking creates possible future outcomes (scenarios) to improve the quality of decision-making. One of the best definitions of scenarios is by Michael Porter:

an internally consistent view of what the future might be, not a forecast but one possible future outcome”.

At a time of volatility and change, managers need to be able to step out of their current framework and imagine future worlds – which may arrive sooner than expected.

But some organisations feel that they do not have the capability to develop scenarios, for instance because they are not sure what questions to ask, or because they do not feel confident of their expertise outside their operational domain. In these cases, using existing scenarios is really useful.

Why use existing scenarios?

Using pre-existing scenarios as a basis for work in an organisation makes a lot of sense under some circumstances. For example

  • Where the external environment is a dominant factor, e.g. the economy, then using scenarios based on economic futures to frame a discussion of implications for different parts of the organisation can be helpful
  • Where the intention is to introduce scenario thinking to a group of people for the first time, it is often useful to use external “reputable” scenarios to allay suspicion of the provenance
  • Where an organisation has developed scenarios already – for instance with an internal task force – and business units or functions need to explore the implications for their functions and roles.

quoteSources of scenarios

There are many well-established global and national organisations that undertake scenario studies on a regular basis, for instance

The scenarios below have been used across industry sectors and geographies:

An up-to-date list and links are maintained on the Unlocking Foresight Know How web site, www.unlockingforesight.org.

How to use existing scenarios

Existing scenarios are best explored in workshop mode. They need to be briefed as “fairy stories” which have been useful to other groups in developing their thinking. It is important that these workshops are held off-site to signal “different”, and that the participants have the opportunity to think themselves into the scenarios through sharing among the group members. A two-day format is good to allow reflection and absorption time; so residential workshops work better than non-residential.

More can be found in our scenario primer, www.samiconsulting.co.uk/4scenario%20planning%20%20a%20primer.pdf

Written by Gill Ringland, SAMI Fellow and CEO.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily of SAMI Consulting.

If you enjoyed this blog, sign up for our monthly newsletter at eSAMIsignup@samiconsulting.co.uk and/or browse our website at http://www.samiconsulting.co.uk

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