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“Britain in 2030: four post-Brexit scenarios”: the localisation scenarios

October 18, 2017

This is the third of a series of four blogs springing out of our scenario set on Britain in 2030. Our first blog dealt with some aspects of the model; we then addressed the two ‘global’ scenarios, and this one deals with the ‘local’ ones.

SAMI Futures model

In our last blog we said, “It is not the role of foresight to be political; it is our role to envision options and possibilities which provide frames for thinking about the future world.” We know that our scenarios will be interpreted politically – indeed, the previous blogs have been – but it is important to note, again, that we do not make political judgements in scenario planning: we look at the impacts of the political judgements which others make. Scenarios, particularly ones based as this set is, on balanced axes, have the advantage that they reflect all sides of a position in broad. Whilst there will inevitably be other factors in play, including Taleb’s ‘black swans’, axis based modelling at least allows for an examination of a position in the round.

The globalisation scenarios in the previous blog looked at developments of the world as it currently is: aspects of a globalised world where globalisation itself can take two divergent paths. The localisation models assume that that path is, essentially, rejected because of our projected near term “global crisis”, and the world order develops along more fractured lines.

Our “localisation” scenario prefers social cohesion over competition in a patchwork world. Globally engaged players become more inward looking – and especially we see the US giving up its role as global policeman – and migration barriers increase. Trade and other international agreements are built around a patchwork of one-to-one bilateral agreements. In particular, this affects those issues where wide international agreement is necessary to keep a policy effective: climate change would be the greatest impact here as international climate agreements become more difficult to sustain.

Social cohesion improves: communities of interest and civil society generally gets a big boost, as people look to use technology to develop alternatives to big corporations, take ownership of their own data and develop alternative currencies. Society becomes more diffuse in the absence of strong central governments and companies but it also becomes more bonded across interest groups. Entrepreneurs can gain economic and political power, though there is a tendency to prevent it from being centralised in too few hands – something replicated in governments, as some states fragment into their smaller constituent parts.

The UK’s decision to leave the EU is less relevant than it at first appeared – the country becomes one amongst many, suffering as the EU’s cohesion diminishes but benefitting in its ability to be part of the prevalent bilateral agreement model. There is a distinct possibility that the Union will break down as the various constituent parts choose to go their own way.

When we move from the social focus to an economic one (the scenario called “Fragmentation and competition”), we see a number of differences. Europe maintains coherence at its core, but it is the coherence of a fortress. Borders are tight. Competitive advantage is all; competition from low-wage economies continues to drive down real wages in advanced economies, but also promotes the development of new technologies – which are closely protected by patent barriers.

The impact of our postulated crisis leads people to draw different lessons. Competing systems with different tolerances for threats such as systemic collapse and cyber-attack avoid the risk that centralised economic and political systems can collapse, but those competing systems compete with each other for advantage. This is not just financial; corporations increasingly want to be in low tax communities with low legislative burdens, so governments respond by lowering corporation taxes, and loosening laws on the protection of workforce rights. The impact on tax revenues affects states’ ability to deliver on the “cradle to grave” welfare system. Automation lowers costs, but drives people out of work, and internal cohesion suffers, though the grey economy provides an element of informal employment. Migration of the highly skilled becomes easier; of the lower-skilled more difficult.

Trade is the tool for diplomacy; trading blocs with large consumer bases and substantial low cost manufacturing, such as China and India, are confident players on the world stage. Smaller countries focus on a narrow range of specialisms.

For the UK, pinned between fortress Europe and an inward looking US, competing as a global player is difficult except in very specific areas – education, financial services, aviation and some specific high technology applications becomes key to the economy. Tourism is no longer about ‘cool Britannia’, but the “heritage theme park” of history and tradition. Benefitting also from its language and still respected legal system, the “British model” of tight industrial focus, low tax and regulation, and determined international trade negotiations, becomes one other smaller countries work hard to replicate.

The localised world is “harder” than the globalised one. The liberal mantras of the post-war settlement have broken down, and the world is more competitive, less cooperative and in many ways harsher. But there are places in it for countries to succeed – though whether those countries are all the ones we are currently used to is somewhat moot.

Our final blog in this series will seek to draw some conclusions – common themes, and common differences, and try to draw together what the world, specifically for the UK, will look like in 2030.

Written by Jonathan Blanchard Smith, 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

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“Britain in 2030: Four Scenarios for post-Brexit Britain”: the global scenarios

October 11, 2017

This is the second of a series of four blogs springing out of the work we did to produce our scenario set on Britain in 2030. Our first blog dealt with some aspects of the model; this one will address the two ‘global’ scenarios, to be followed by one addressing the ‘local’ scenarios. We’ll follow it up with a set of conclusions.

SAMI Futures model

It is not the role of foresight to be political; it is our role to envision options and possibilities which provide frames for thinking about the future world. Political in any case is subject to any number of interpretations, and operates in the widest number of public spaces. Whilst, therefore, the UK’s decision to leave is a political one, and the response to it will be framed in a political context, the impacts of that decision will be in real-world effects which can be imagined and assessed. It is important to note that we do not make political judgements in scenario planning: we look at the impacts of the political judgements which others make.

Since the global models share the assumption that the current pattern of national engagement remains essentially focused on world trade, and the continuation of a global political outlook by the major powers and international bodies, the key distinction is between a synergistic and competitive approach to that global outlook.

The ‘global common approach’ quadrant is a development of the post-financial crisis, pre-Brexit world. It is convenient to think of it as international cooperation with a dash of the Olympic spirit: peoples working in harmony for a common aim and with common ideals. That implies a strengthening of international bodies – the UN, the EU – and of links across those bodies. Global governance improves, and governments work with each other in a spirit of mutual support. We would anticipate a growth in economic and social development; shocks to the world financial system would be smoothed out, and liberal values of equality and access to employment would continue to increase. The corollary is that free movement of people and capital would also be improved.

In this model, the UK would play an important part, since its constants of the English language, a trusted rules-based system, and an open, external focus would enable it to trade widely and smoothly. Negotiations with the EU would have resulted in a replicable model of frictionless trade, coupled with a movement of people almost identical to that prevailing before Brexit.

Pressure points would include aging populations in the west, encouraging immigration; the continuing rise in cyber crime as the world becomes more connected; and an increased focus on governance which may look like overheavy control on free enterprise.

The ‘global competitive’ approach is very different: against the Olympics, we have the international football competitions – teams of people competing against each other to gain and maintain dominant positions with little co-operation between the teams except in agreeing the basic rules of the game.

The international cooperative structure is therefore predominantly governed by an interlocking and frequently changing series of bilateral agreements, where nations attempt to gain the best possible deal for themselves, not for the community in large. Stresses and strains inevitably build up along the fault lines of those agreements. Migration is now based on national advantage – those people who have skills are in demand; those who do not have the skills needed by one nation or other are excluded.

Existing federal structures, especially Europe – and in this model we imagine that Scandinavia develops in its own way – become fortresses, both economically and in reality. Such matters as cyber security become more important as standards (and hence the ability to defend against attack) are regionalized. The desire for competitive advantage reintroduces subsidies for industry and technology development, and tariff barriers become significant. Developing countries would be locked out of the profitable markets behind these walls, though this may lead them into more effective regional alliances to develop the scale they need to be able to compete on the world stage.

For the UK, being outside the EU forces it to engage, rapidly, with bilateral deals to maintain access to markets – and, importantly, access into the UK of the imports it needs to maintain the local standard of living. This world looks more ‘capitalist’, but for Britain, it should contain opportunities – though they will have to be fought for.

Our next blog looks at what happens in a world where localization, not globalization, is dominant; one in which our scenarios look very different.

Written by Jonathan Blanchard Smith, 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

 

“Britain in 2030: Scenarios for post-Brexit Britain”

October 5, 2017

For party conference season, SAMI has produced “Britain in 2030: Four Scenarios for post-Brexit Britain”. Conscious that much of the conversation around the UK leaving the European Union is inevitably influenced by the various political positions of both sides, we wanted to allow policymakers to have an apolitical space in which to consider the possible futures for the country.

The UK does not operate in isolation, of course, so we were concerned with outlining some versions of what the world itself looked like, to provide context for the UK’s future. We will be covering this piece of work in this blog and the three following. This blog covers the methodology we used; the next one the two options best described as ‘globalisation, then ‘localisation’, and finally we will draw out some conclusions from the whole exercise.

A scenario is not a forecast: it is a tool for thinking, an assembly of evidence and imagination, projected forwards to enable anticipatory thinking and planning. Scenarios tend to avoid wide variations from the path as visible from the now, so we regret that we do not anticipate, for instance, radical variations from a reasonably wide cone of possibilities.

Scenario vs forecast

After some consideration we chose two axes to build up a model for our scenarios. Whilst of course there are many factors in the decision to leave the EU, we chose what seemed to us to be two clear contradictions: the drive to globalisation (open borders and international organisations) compared to the desire for localisation (closed borders and bilateral trade deals); and the increasing debate between the free market, economically focussed approach on the one side compared to the social cohesion approach on the other – essentially, neo-liberalism versus the Podemos approach. This gives us four distinct quadrants, allowing us to develop scenarios for each.

SAMI Futures model

As we work through them, it will be clear that there are some recurring elements – and some which do not appear at all. Most obviously, this is a scenario set for 2030, and we have therefore not included climate change to any significant degree – the consensus is that this horizon is too short for major effects. We have, though, assumed a crisis of one sort or another in the near-medium term, though we have not specified it: it may be Brexit in itself; it may equally be another financial crisis or a geopolitical event. We have also assumed that the continuing development in biotechnology will continue, though we have located this development in Asia, partly to avoid it contaminating the model for UK and Europe.

Our next blog will examine the two quadrants above the horizontal axis – Global competition; and the Global common approach. We welcome your thoughts and comments.

Written by Jonathan Blanchard Smith, 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

‘Separate Worlds or Shared Prosperity’. Centre for Cities ‘City Horizons’ Lecture series

September 29, 2017

On a very pleasant September afternoon I made my way to The Shard and the floor occupied by Warwick Business School to listen to one of the lectures in the Centre for Cities ‘City Horizons’ series.

After a short time to admire the view across London I, and the other attendees, gathered to listen to Prof Michael Storper, author of ‘The Rise and Fall of Urban Economies’ and teacher at UCLA, Sciences PO and the LSE, discuss trends in urbanisation across the world.

Cities photo

The talk focussed on the growing divide between cities and ‘the rest ‘ of a country which has shown up in various ways recently. It’s clear that there has been, and continues to be, growing interregional inequality in terms of income, job creation and productivity – known as ‘The Great Inversion’.

Over time prosperity has tended to even out between the cities and the suburbs and rural communities. This no longer appears to be happening. Rather there seems to be a strong shift to inner metropolitan areas which can be dated from the 1980s with a ‘new geography of jobs (skills, opportunities, etc)’ creating increasingly separate worlds.

There has been a major change in the focus of growth since the 1970s/1980s. The increase in digital work, lower long distance trade costs and growth in the finance industry means that the core functions of the new industries have become more and more urban and oriented to big cities.

These cities are still attracting talent despite their high costs and travel issues because they have more amenities, a residential economy and the income is higher as opposed to the rural work even in skilled jobs.

Historically, people moved to cities to gain skills, ‘move up’ the social ladder and take advantage of new opportunities. However, since 1980, the migration has been of skilled people moving between a range of skilled areas; that is, other cities. Some say this is to do with housing price differential but that is not sufficient to account for the overall trend.

It appears that skills are increasingly important – not just the availability of the necessary education but also the access to other people and networks. It seems that it’s about being there in person to know what is going on, what jobs are available, what skills are required – to be ‘in the know’.

There are many challenges in this world – the need for the creation of good jobs outside the metropolitan area, how universities get students into ‘areas of access’ although, of course, not everyone needs a degree and how to overcome the ‘middle-trap’ for the regions.

Research also shows that values are diverging interregionally with manual versus cognitive work showing a strong correlation in values surveys. This is leading to a situation where the ‘professional elite’ and the ‘manual working class’ do not understand each other, with differing sources of validation, honour and self-worth across the various geographies. It seems likely that this is, in part, leading to the social and spatial ‘traps’ we see in communities around the world, including increased rates of depression and drug use along with lower intergenerational social mobility.

All these themes raise a number of challenges and questions. For example, what happens if we just ‘let the cities get on with it’ and they continue to get increasingly prosperous? Will we be able to work out how to share across the apparent divisions? Alternatively we know from history that cities are naturally changing ecosystems so could we see the end of big prosperous cities? This could be foreshadowed by the rise in artificial intelligence as it could change the need and availability of skilled workers and damage the amount of money available to the large cities.

Prof. Storper’s talk raised a number of issues about the prosperity or otherwise of big urban agglomerations and made for a fascinating hour with many areas for further thought and exploration as the conversations afterwards demonstrated. As ever, though, there are no easy answers.

If this short review has piqued your interest you can catch up with the talk at:

http://www.centreforcities.org/multimedia/event-catch-up-city-horizons-with-prof-michael-storper/

Written by Cathy Dunn, SAMI Principal.

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

 

 

Boards & Risk – improving risk literacy in the boardroom?

September 20, 2017

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Executive boards have a responsibility for good governance and responsible stewardship, yet persist in treating risk as a control function, not a decision process. A board is required to take collective responsibility for the organisation’s risk appetite, yet in most board meetings risk is treated as the privileged domain of the Head of Risk, or Chair of the Risk & Audit Committee. Other directors defer to this person as a risk ‘expert’. Consequently risk is confined to imaginable threats to business continuity, a very limited perspective especially as most crises result from unimagined incidents.

Consider two very different unimagined incidents: Ratner jewellery in 1991 and United Airlines in 2017, years apart but with a common theme. In Ratner’s case, a disparaging flippant remark, intended for the financial press, reached the tabloid press where Ratner’s customers took offence and boycotted the brand. In United’s case, an incentive scheme to encourage over-booked passengers to move failed to motivate a customer, who as a result was removed by airport security. In each case the consequences were never imagined because the situations were not itemised on any risk register.

In the past 30 years almost every reputational crisis of note was caused by an incident that had not been foreseen or imagined. This is not a fault of risk management itself, but of how myopic boards have become in their perception of risk. Risk is future uncertainty, good and bad, opportunity and threat. Risk has become a discrete function rather than a vision of future outcomes and bedfellow to Strategy. The same happened to Corporate Responsibility in the recent past: a collective responsibility was identified, attributed to an owner, who became the expert at the board table. What is it in the psychology of boards where authority is sought but collective responsibility is shunned?

The answer to why so many scandals and crises still occur decades after risk became a hot boardroom topic is because boards are looking at risk the wrong way. It also explains why so many communicate it ineffectively. To investors and sponsors risk is presented as a commercial opportunity, the precursor of reward; but to regulators and customers it is presented as something under firm control, a threat that has been confidently mitigated. The language of risk is muddled and so boards need to develop collective risk literacy. This is necessary to articulate not only the board’s shared appreciation of risk, but also its powerlessness to offer certainty about the future.

What is the best way to develop risk literacy? The first step is to shake off the fear of uncertainty and this might seem unnatural. Boards feel they are expected to deliver certainty to investors, customers and a variety of other stakeholders in order to retain their mandate to operate and instil confidence. Nevertheless certainty about the future is a dangerous place and it has been said there are only two types of forecast – lucky and wrong! Admitting uncertainty is not a sign of weakness or incompetence, provided of course it is qualified. Effective risk literacy requires an appreciation of the different degrees off uncertainty, from known-knowns to unknown-unknowns and all the intervening stages.

Improved risk literacy among boards will reduce the risk of performance getting significantly out of line with promise. In the case of Ratner and United a gap opened up between what investors & customers expected and what proved to be reality. This is the gap into which reputation falls. In Ratner’s case customers learnt that he believed his products were ‘crap’ and by implication they were gullible. In United’s case customers believed the airline ‘flew the friendly skies’ but video footage of a customer being beaten up quickly disabused them of this notion. In both cases discovering reality was a complete shock: in 1991 through mainstream press and in 2017 by social media. It is ‘dissonance shock’ that damages reputation: trust flees with value not far behind. Reputation is how you behave.

A higher level of risk literacy in boards would also help to address the dissonance when different parts of an organisation exhibit different approaches to risk. This is most common in the public sector but can also be found in the private sector. Public services like schools and hospitals tend to have a risk-averse culture, implicit in the nature of their duty of care. An imposed management level tasked with cost cutting or revenue generation imposes a higher appetite for risk than the operational culture because it will be looking for commercial gain. The clash of risk culture between management and operations can be recognised and tackled with higher levels of risk literacy in the boardroom.

The amount of risk literacy in a board will depend on the industry sector and the extent to which risk is or is not an intrinsic part of the operational environment. Most organisations already know whether they have a risk seeking or risk avoiding culture, the challenge is to ensure the board has the right balance of viewpoints to equip the enterprise for the future operating environment. The statutory requirement to report on risk appetite is a good start, and most professional organisations accept that appetite will vary according to a variety of internal and external factors so report it accordingly. There does however need to be greater attention to strategic as opposed to operational risk by the board.

Strategic risks should be discussed by the board but are often unseen or unspoken, either by accident or design. Unseen risks include those which cannot be attributed such a reputation, and those which are simply too complex or political. Some risks are unseen because they are so obvious they have become invisible such as culture itself. Unspoken risks include those which powerful members of the board do not want discussed or which for legal reasons cannot be openly discussed. Some unspoken risks remain unvoiced because to do so would question the ethics of the organisation. Nevertheless both unseen and unspoken risks fall to the category of strategic risk which the board should discuss.

In conclusion, boards could improve risk literacy through taking collective responsibility for decisions about the organisation’s future direction (strategy) in tandem with uncertainties relating to this (risk). Perception of risk as threat or opportunity will vary among individual board members in accordance with their personalities, disposition, outlook and experience but collectively it needs to be corralled into a consensus view in terms of both perception and attitude for the organisation as a whole. This will probably require a CEO or Company Secretary to pull together the consolidated opinion of both executive and non-executive board members, but in the long run the organisation will be in a healthier place and earn greater respect from investors, customers and other stakeholder sources of income.

Written by Garry Honey, Chiron Reputation Risk CEO, Better Boards and SAMI Associate. Longer version first published on September 2017 at Board Agenda.

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

 

Does Foresight work? Case studies

September 13, 2017

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We know that there is evidence that long term thinking is linked to superior performance .

How does foresight contribute to long term thinking? Can the effect be measured? As I was taught at Stanford Business School, it is impossible to directly measure the effect of strategy because strategy only has effect through implementation – and good strategy, bad implementation may be worse than bad strategy, good implementation. But it seems obvious nevertheless that long term thinking underpinned by effective foresight must be better than long term thinking underpinned by un-examined assumptions that the future will be very like the past.

So it is worth looking at case studies of foresight used to underpin decisions.

There are a range of studies of the effect of foresight in the form of scenario thinking at Shell, since the early 1970’s. For instance:

Another perspective can be found in “Scenario projects in Japanese government: Twenty years of experience, five tales from the front line” which can be found at http://unlocking-foresight.tizrapublisher.com/ka4o8s/

Directly tackling the evidence through evaluation in different environments, we know of a classic book on the use of Foresight in Research – which for instance evaluated how to get better results from Delphi following 25 years of experience in Japan – Research Foresight, Ben R Martin and John Irvine, Pinter, 1989. A more recent article is Martin, Ben (2010) The origins of the concept of `foresight’ in science and technology: an insider’s perspective. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 77 (9). pp. 1438-47. ISSN 0040-1625

In SAMI we have seen many organisations use foresight to improve their long term thinking. For instance:

  • In the insurance industry, Legal and General used scenarios to explore changes through regulation, demographics and technology – concluding that the only two scenarios were Evolution or Revolution
  • In asset management, the Man Group used Scenarios for the City of London to gain insights into their different businesses, leading to divestment and re-alignment: and the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development wanted to take stock after 25 years of operation.
  • Angel Trains developed scenarios for the rail industry and realised that they were in the risk business rather than the rail industry
  • Global lawyer Allen & Overy bought a number of firms in North Africa after using scenario thinking to surface their exposure to Sharia Law.
  • Accountants Grant Thornton UK developed scenarios the business environment in the UK as part of their Future Perspectives project and found that this led naturally to their Vibrant England strategy to work with innovative, and small and mid-size, businesses.
  • Scenarios for Europe were developed to advise on research agendas and policy options related to converging technologies. These are often defined as nanotechnology, biotechnology, information technology, and cognitive sciences (NBIC). The recommendations were used widely to inform research programmes in national laboratories across Europe.
  • In Higher Education, scenarios for Scotland were used to frame the development of Napier University: and scenarios for Higher Education in Romania led to Government White Papers and the secondment of three of the team to the World Bank to plan implementation.

What can be learnt from these case studies?

Perhaps, unsurprisingly, that

  • foresight is often undertaken for a reason, such as a new Principal (Napier University) or new CEO (Legal and General), unacceptable losses in a division (Man Group), perceived need to restructure (Romanian Higher Education), the need to seek new investors (Angel Trains), the need to make assumptions explicit across cultures (Scenarios for Europe) or because of perceived challenges in the business environment (Allen & Overy, Grant Thornton)
  • Decisions can be made and actions can be taken with more confidence after foresight work has explored alternative futures – Shell have estimated that they can take decisions 3 to 6 months earlier than their competition through scenario thinking.

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

Tools for long term thinking

September 6, 2017

As practitioners of strategy in the context of the future, we at SAMI have always instinctively believed that this approach is better than strategy with a good view in the rear view mirror. Views of the future allow you to think long term and make informed decisions for the long term.

What tools are there to improve thinking about the future?

A tool that is useful for thinking about factors that could cause the organisation’s assumptions to change (drivers of change) is Three Horizons. It is quickly adopted by groups of people and is often combined with a “looking back” exercise in which the group relates to their organisation, industry or country twice as many years in the past as the group is going to think forward – ethnographers suggest that change in the future will be twice as fast as in the past. Three Horizons is the subject of a book by Bill Sharpe.

Horizon 1 takes into account the current working assumptions and systems that we take for granted when we make decisions.

3 Horizons

  • Example – the ongoing trend for decreasing family size, for migration, and for people to live longer, causes us to re-examine our assumptions on demographics.

Horizon 3 is about changes emerging that are completely new paradigms and ways of understanding and undertaking various human activities. What are visionary leaders saying?

  • Example – The World Business Council for Sustainable Development believes that nine billion people can live well on the planet.

Horizon 2 is about drivers which represent a transition or accommodation for evolving tensions as current assumptions and work patterns obsolesce, and transformative changes affect industries and markets.

  • Example – the CEO of GM, Mary Barra “I believe we will see more change in our industry in the next five to ten years than we have in the last 50. We are at the start of a technological revolution that is going to change the way we drive and interact with our cars, trucks, and crossovers”

Once you have used Three Horizons to identify drivers of change to build into strategy now (Horizon One), a tool for thinking about the effect this could have on your organisation, through customers, stakeholders, regulation, etc, is an Impact (aka Futures) Wheel. Starting from the driver at the centre, effects are mapped outwards. This is a structured brainstorming method used to organise thinking about potential impacts.

Futures Wheels are described in “Strategic Foresight” by Patricia Lustig .

Strat foresight tool

A tool that is explicitly designed to explore a range of possible futures is scenario planning. The strength of this is to create mental models and a shared language for potential futures. These can then get wider traction and help organisational self knowledge. For instance at a computer firm, two scenarios were developed for the industry:

  • Coral Reef, in which an exciting and innovative industry was represented by smiling clown fish, visible to customers and working with them
  • Deep Sea, in which an industry largely invisible to customers was treated with suspicion by customers,

These terms were used to discuss the changing nature of the industry – from Coral Reef to Deep Sea – to reshape the marketing and sales approach, and by account managers to discuss customers. The names were intuitive enough for those not involved in scenario development to find them useful, even without the full description, timeline, etc.

The process of scenario development has been described in a number of books nd articles, and one of the most succinct is on www.samiconsulting.co.uk/4scenario planning a primer.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 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

 

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