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Scenario Planning - managing and uncertain future

Scenario Planning

"He who foretells the future lies, even if he tells the truth" Arab Proverb

We cannot predict the future, but we can understand what futures might emerge.

The first step is to understand what the business system looks like (see Value Mapping) and to understand the drivers behind the outcomes we observe. When looking to the future some things will be pre-determined since they are the extension of processes which have been developing in the past. Demographic change is a good example of such a pre-determined element. We already know that the proportion of the population over 80 will be growing through our understanding of birth rates, mortality rates and longevity.


Some things however are uncertainties which depending on their outcome could take the future in alternative directions. These are called "branching points" in the Scenario Planning community. A "Scenario" is a combination of pre-determined elements and branching points built into an internally consistent picture of a possible future world.


Using a number of scenarios to enrich the strategic debate is an invaluable means of ensuring that a strategy is robust to alternative futures. Scenarios can take the form of story-boards or graphical simulations or both.

Peter Franklin's background in strategic planning in Shell, and his experience in deploying scenarios to assist management decision making in his post-Shell career enable us to offer the capability within our repertoire of management decision making support tools.


When confronting a strategic decision it is essential to consider the alternative worlds which the organisation may face - Scenario planning is the best means of achieving this.

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