Research report—Scenario plan

Scenario planning is a structured way to consider and anticipate the future. In broad terms, scenario planning involves determining and visualising probable future conditions or events, their likely consequences or effects, and how to respond to or benefit from them. Scenario planning is about what ‘might’ happen in the future, rather than what will happen—essentially it provides a road map from the present to the future. There are several important benefits of scenario planning, including thinking creatively and forward-looking, as well as questioning assumptions about the future and the drivers and forces that influence a specific sector of activity.
For this task, the trend in focus is: “Diversity for a new decade”. Please conduct some research into this trend. I have attached some articles and reports to help you get started as well
This section of the report will include
– Structure and scope of the report– Scenario planning definition and framework, including the benefits of scenario planning.– Trend descriiption
There are two key pieces to include in the introduction – an overview of scenarioplanning and the chosen trend research. Make sure you use the documents attached among otherresources to study and explain the trend. Make it clear what aspect of the trend you are focusing on.—————————————————————————–(not included in this task but added info for the benefit of more understanding the complete picture)The goal of this task is to be followed by a scenario plan of 9 stages1- Determining the questionAs simple as it sounds, making sure that you are asking the right question at the outset is one of the most difficult parts of the scenario planning exercise. To be able to define the question is to know the subject, but this is exactly what many brands, businesses and organizations concerned with the future fail to do. The correct framing of the initial question is vital to the integrity and accuracy of the outcome of any particular scenario. The question then should be singular and clearly honed. To achieve this some planners follow a very straightforward ‘what if ’ approach. For example: ‘What if the temperature of the planet were to rise by one degree per century?’ ‘What if one of our competitors were to create an engine that ran on electricity rather than petrol?’ ‘What if consumers only bought products that were proven to be sustainable?’ Questions like this keep your outputs focused and reflective of the question being asked. Another frequently used method is the big opening statement followed by the ‘little’ question that relates this statement back to how it impacts on what it is you are trying to anticipate about the future. For example: ‘The Planet is Dying’ (the big statement) followed by ‘How does this affect my business’s ability to sell stuff that is environmentally damaging’ (the little question). The trick is to strip the big statement down to its most basic components – subject, object, concern – and to keep the question responding to it equally focused and strategic.
2- ContextualisationBefore you attempt to answer an agreed question, it is important to understand the context within which that question is being asked. Two factors govern this: internal drivers (forces) and their external counterparts. Internal drivers are those factors within an organization that require a question to be asked in the first place (for example, declining performance, slow response to competitor activities, a de-motivated workforce, inadequate budgets, poor leadership, etc.), while external ones are those broader cultural, social, environmental and market forces that directly impact on, or indirectly create, those internal forces in the first place. An initial probe of the key people involved in a scenario planning exercise – referred to as ‘stakeholders’ because they own a ‘stake’ or a ‘share’ in the project being undertaken – will illicit details about the nature of the internal and external drivers involved as they see them. The leader of the scenario planning team will usually interview the stakeholders individually at the outset of the exercise, making careful notes or recording each interview as he or she goes along. The leader will probe the concerns of each stakeholder, discussing with him or her the nature of the question being asked, why it is being asked now, whether he or she thinks it is the right question and, more importantly, if he or she thinks it is worth asking. The leader will also ask the stakeholders to list the external drivers, as they perceive them, which need to be considered in answering the initial question.At this point, the team leader is attempting to identify all internal issues that are relevant, including those that are likely to lead to conflict or confusion later on in the scenario planning process. These issues can be anything from stakeholders who are not keen on the process in the first place (and thus can become disruptive, prejudiced or biased in their thinking), to a group of stakeholders who are not fully embracing the enormity of the internal, or for that matter the external, forces about to swamp them. The team leader is also attempting to identify the external drivers which stakeholders deem to be most important, so that these can be compared to those people outside the business believe to be of relevance (see stage three). This ensures that the correct drivers impacting on the company’s performance are being measured. To make sure you are identifying these drivers, list the ones that matter internally, getting people to rank them according to the most and least threatening, and then compare these to a list of external drivers as determined by the independent analysts, academics and experts you interview at stage three.
3- External driversIf stage two is about establishing the context within which the initial ‘what if ’ question is being asked from an internal perspective, at stage three you are carrying out a very similar exercise, but doing it in a more systematic and objective way. At this point, expert input is usually required. Some organizations refer to this as their ‘star chamber’, but in essence it is a panel of experts (see page 55) who have a thorough knowledge of the company or the sector under review, and an equally thorough understanding of the drivers that are most likely to impact on the outcome of the question being asked. Budget permitting, this star chamber may be on hand, or at least be available to be called on, at all stages of the exercise. They are always brought in at stage three and stage eight to validate, challenge or to make further contributions to the scenario plan before it is finally agreed on by all stakeholders and written up. The size of a star chamber varies, and new members can be added at any time if, and when, issues arise that require third party explanation. Depending on the nature of the question being asked, the research carried out at this stage will encompass many disciplines and sectors, but as a default requirement most organizations will carry out a thorough analysis of the following external drivers in relation to the question under review: __ Cultural : the prevailing climate towards issues and matters relating to leisure, lifestyle and inner-directed activities or experiences that govern our sense of wellbeing, personal esteem, aspiration and social position __ Economic: the prevailing climate in terms of market buoyancy, or how consumers sit economically in relation to changing market fortunes __ Civic: the prevailing social and civic mindset of the culture generally. Are people more or less disposed towards notions of civic engagement? Are they becoming more or less ethical or socially aware in their daily activities? __ Social: what is accepted socially among friends and associates and in the wider community. Is our sense of what is socially acceptable changing and, if so, how?__ Political: the state of political involvement locally and globally. Are governments, for example, more legislation prone, increasingly right wing, left wing, concerned about health, equality or welfare issues, etc? __ Technological: the changes in technology by intention or by accident that might be imposing on a business. The Internet, for instance, was established as an academic and military router for vast lakes of data, yet now it permeates all aspects of our lifestyles from shopping and dating to how we consume, create and distribute media __ Environmental: our changing attitudes and outlook to sustainability, a brand’s carbon footprint, or how a product is sourced and developed within a problematic global framework __ Ethical: the prevailing stance people are taking on a range of civic, social, sexual, corporate and moral issues that would suggest an overall shift towards a more judgemental, fair, indifferent or concerned public __ Competitive: competitor activity and the new and emerging products or services they are planning to bring to market that might impact on the brand, product or service being looked at __ Known unknowns: as irrational and contradictory as it sounds, there are always ‘known unknowns’ (left-of-field innovations, discoveries or changes in attitude) that you may not consider because they seem too wild or weird, but nevertheless should be considered for this very reason. For example the World Wide Web, the iPhone, the Nintendo Wii and the Dyson vacuum cleaner were all considered too weird by the Late Majority and Laggards when first mooted. The underlying principle at Le Laboratoire in Paris, is for their thinkers and designers to dream and create the unthinkable in an atmosphere that encourages this process. Walls, rooms, even objects within them, are designed by Mathieu Lehanneur to stimulate debate, capture thoughts and encourage visionary thinking. For each external driver, it is important to establish a true and comprehensive picture of how people are feeling, and why they are feeling as they do. This is done by assembling all key facts, statistics and market commentary that has been published about the sector you are focusing on in relation to your identified drivers. This is referred to as ‘desk research’ because it is usually done online, or culled from existing documentation. Armed with this research, you will collaborate with the project stakeholders to assemble an initial list of experts who will be asked to delve deeper into the default list of drivers and to refine them even further. Although these drivers are generic, once they have been judged in relation to the question being asked, and discussed and debated by the star chamber (who do this with the stakeholders), they take on a new relevance and meaning as some become more important than others and some change from being a general driver to one that is very significant or potentially more threatening than previously believed. Much of this debate takes place in the scenario planning room, a room similar to the ideas dens and evidence walls looked at in Chapter 2 (see pages 47– 49). This room needs to contain blackboards, whiteboards, pinboards, Post-its, Internet access, projectors and break-out areas or tables where small teams can work together. It also needs paper, pens, notebooks, reference books and a ‘base knowledge library’ where all previously researched material is assembled, alongside the books, papers, reports, surveys, etc., put together by the scenario planning team.
4- Ranking and rangingHaving established your internal drivers and their external counterparts, it is now important to rank them all in order of relevance and immediacy, but also in terms of the levels of uncertainty they may introduce into the scenario planning process. To get this right, and to keep things simple, it is always best to rank the most important or influential factors first – the ones that are most likely to affect the outcome of the question. This is done by assessing all drivers with the star chamber and the scenario planning team present, and talking them through until there is a majority agreement on how they should be ranked. Once drivers have been assessed and ranked, it is then important to test them against the initial question to make sure that the question being asked is in fact the right one. If it is not – and this can sometimes happen – do not hesitate to change it. After all, this is why you have asked your star chamber to take part in the scenario planning process in the first place: to ensure you are on the right track but also to identify any gaps in your knowledge that might detrimentally impact on your overall research. As you rank and group the drivers, you will also notice a particular pattern or emphasis emerging. If, for example, civic, ethical, social and political drivers rank more prominently this infers that issues impacting on the question are very much the concerns of people (as opposed to issues relating to the economy, market forces or a competitor’s activities). If this is the case, this must be factored in, or the question reframed. If, on the other hand, economic, competitive and technological drivers are on top, you can probably infer that threats are mainly market-centric and competitor ones.
5- Naming and framing
You are now at the pivotal point of the scenario planning process. Here you begin to flesh out the scenarios that are now starting to suggest themselves from the fog of data, evidence, drivers and star chamber quotes appearing on the mapping room wall or the work areas around you. Up to this point you have assembled all kinds of empirical evidence and logged both an objective and subjective view of the world in relation to the opening question. Likewise you have listened to and used your star chamber to flesh out an understanding of the key issues under review and of the drivers that are likely to impact upon them. From now on you are trying to reach a situation where the drivers are showing you a number of ways forward: a question perhaps that proceeds along a predominantly civic and social route; one that sees technology as a key and overriding threat or one that is dominated by environmental questions. Once this ranking is complete – and the best way to do this is to draw up your final list of drivers as agreed by all parties and then call for a vote on the most and least important – you will find that you now have a list of drivers that are also suggesting a list of very clear themes: a civic and social theme, a technological theme, an environmental theme. These themes provide you with the underpinning for five basic scenarios developed by planners since the 1950s. Each scenario is subtly different, but each has been designed to accommodate some overlap and also to move the collective work of scenario planners and stakeholders along in a way that allows them to envision most eventualities. As Carsten Beck explains: ‘When working with scenarios we are not talking about actual futures, but about potential ones. Ways the world may change as a consequence of other seen or unseen forces that may push a brand or business along a route hitherto unimagined, or indeed unwelcome.’ 6 The five basic scenario frameworks used to do this are as follows: __ Scenario A: is the ‘base case proposition’ – a scenario that suggests that the future, with minor variations, will be more or less the same as the present __ Scenario B: is the ‘best case proposition’ – a scenario that suggests a future that will get better and brighter if all current drivers continue along the direction they are going, and all variables are taken into account __ Scenario C: is the ‘worst case scenario’ – one that suggests things will get worse in terms of competitor activity, but also with regard to all social, cultural, economic and civic drivers, etc. __ Scenario D: is the ‘cross case scenario’ – a scenario model that accepts things are never black or white, but mercurial and less pure __ Scenario E: is the ‘rogue scenario’ – a scenario model that requires you to ‘think the unthinkable’ and which challenges all participants to be lateral, imaginative and progressively whole-brain in their thinking and insights At this point you should also be naming your scenarios, so that each one develops a distinct personality. Using ideas suggested by your drivers, and by your original question, your titles should be clear but compelling. For example, for a scenario dominated by civic, social and ethical themes try a name like ‘The New Moral Order’; for one dominated by technology and the Internet ‘The Silicon Cascade’; for one governed by environmental themes ‘The Eco-Wars’. Titles need to be memorable, but they also need to be short – there will be five to remember, debate and hold in mind at any given time.
6- Logic and narrativeWhen mapping out these scenarios it is vital to ensure that each one contains its own internal logic, rationale and narrative that seems real and true. While scenarios are possible future realities, in each case they need to be constructed as if they are real. In this way, they are like good works of fiction: while the story itself may seem fantastical – J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books (about teen wizards and witches), Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight (about teen vampires) – the logic and texture of the worlds created within them are entirely real and believable. The scenarios should, therefore, be written up to resemble the plot of a good film, book or television series. To focus your mind, it is best to block out each scenario as follows: __ Question: for example, ‘What if I am a newspaper editor and my readers start reading all their news coverage for free online?’ __ Scenario title: for example, ‘The Digital Threat’ [Scenario C – the worst case scenario] __ Scenario synopsis: based on the key drivers that dominate this particular scenario: for example, for ‘The Digital Threat’ these might be wireless broadband, 3G, touch screen navigation, free content, readers who no longer see newspapers as the most convenient way to consume news, the rise of e-readers, e-ink and e-newspapers. Full scenario narrative: here you map out a fuller picture of your worst case scenario as outlined above, using as much data and statistics, and as many expert quotes and analyses to create a scenario that is credible, believable and rich in detail and scope. The full scenario narrative can be done as a series of written bullet points, but it is also recommended that you write the scenario up as a fully fledged ‘story’ that describes this future in some depth. __ Scenario planning at this stage of the proceedings should, and usually does, involve a lot of acting out or role playing. Each scene should be played out as a drama, and each member of the team should assume a role or a point of view which they must articulate, defend, argue over, and so on. Doing this will help you to flesh out the scenario. Such role playing will also help you to understand and empathize with your competitor or the people behind the supposed threats to your business. The more you do this, the richer the full blown scenario narrative becomes. You need to follow the above process with each scenario type until you have pinned down and written up all five scenarios in a thorough and comprehensive manner. The time taken for the scenario planning process up to the point of a fully annotated scenario document does vary, but can be completed within the following time frames: __ one week with your key stakeholders to determine the internal drivers __ one week with your star chamber to assess the internal drivers against the external ones as they see them __ one week carrying out desk research to underpin all drivers and issues raised by stakeholders and the star chamber__ two days to meet in the scenario planning room with the star chamber and stakeholders to agree on the final drivers and to begin the scenario planning write-up process __ a minimum of five days to work up each of the scenarios to a point where they are credible and usable for the remainder of the scenario process (done with your key stakeholders and, where required, relevant members of your star chamber) __ one week to ten days writing up the scenario plan into a final, fully annotated document
7- Distillation and dialogue
When all five scenarios are complete, you need to revisit them again from the beginning, carefully combing through them for ideas that they may now share in common. For example, are some of their themes similar? Could you fold one into the other to create four master scenarios rather than five? Could you reduce these four even further? For scenario planners the ideal number of scenarios to work with tends to be three. Experience suggests that this is the number most people can manage over a sustained period of time without losing focus, or confusing one scenario plan with another. To simplify things even further, each scenario should be given a colour – red, amber and green – to distinguish their key characteristics. A ‘red scenario’ is a scenario that is turbulent in that it contains high levels of change, challenge and a need to react quickly and strategically to incoming forces. This scenario also calls on you to thoroughly assess all possibilities, including those that may seem on face value improbable, if not impossible. An ‘amber scenario’ is a scenario where there are medium to low levels of risks involved and one or two major changes that could suddenly, but not irrevocably, impact on the answer to your question. It is a scenario which advises caution but also assumes that if you proceed carefully, all will be okay in the end. A ‘green scenario’ is a scenario in which you have factored in every possibility and are assured that the question being asked can be answered in a way that is positive and beneficial. Yes there might be one or two adjustments to make, but overall all issues can be resolved. Distilling your five scenarios down into three workable and all-encompassing ones is a painstaking process. A very effective way to do this is to allocate a colour to each of the three new scenarios – red, orange, green – and to use red, orange and green highlighter pens to mark up points on your five scenarios that are relevant to the red scenario only, the green scenario, and so on. When this task is complete you will see red, orange and green colour fields on all five scenarios. These now become the basis for drawing up your three new master scenarios. To do this you need to repeat the steps laid out in stage six – stating your question, scenario title, scenario synopsis and full scenario narrative, and filling each of these in accordingly.This time, your full scenario narrative should be even richer in content, context and expert quotes. Each narrative needs to offer a very clear and separate snapshot of the future. Each, although answering the same ‘what if ’ question, is doing so in response to separate drivers and a completely different set of influences and ways of reading the same situation. If the scenarios are too similar, it is important to rework them again, so that there are three clearly defined plans to follow when moving forward: a plan that calls on the business or organization you are working for to ‘think the unthinkable’ and deal with it; a plan that flags up their weaknesses and suggests ways that these can be managed; and a plan that calls on them to make minor adjustments rather than to panic. A key function of all scenario planning is preparedness and the more encompassing each scenario is the more prepared the business or organization you are working for will be. While the question asked should be as simple as possible, each scenario should have within it elements of complexity – drivers that are not as clear cut as would be liked, threats that are more grey than they are black or white. All threats are caused by people, or at least instigated by them, and people by nature are not simplistic. Each of your scenario plans should, therefore, remain as true to the human condition as you can make it – embracing wherever possible all those frailties, passions, quirks, vanities and needs we have as people, and weaving them into the framework of your scenario wherever possible. For example: if the threat to the business you are working for is an ethical one, and it is an ethical one spearheaded by a need among consumers to penalize brands that are damaging the environment, you should ask yourself who is driving this, how do they think, what are their motivations? Are the consumers passionate, cynical, misguided or lead by someone else? If so, what is she or he like? The more ‘colour’ like this you add, the better, more vibrant, passionate and compelling your scenario plan will become.8- Validation and refinement
When you have completed the above stage, it is always a good idea to ask your star chamber to rejoin you, with a view to assessing and commenting on your results. They should be asked to choose which scenario they feel is most likely to answer the question being posed, and the one least likely. Some scenario planners will also present the five original scenarios to the star chamber along with the three new ones, to make sure that nothing vital has been discarded in the distillation process. If the chamber has any queries about the new scenarios, or is in any way unhappy, it is important to question them closely and to understand their reasoning. At the end of this session, if your mind is in any way altered, or if the chamber has brought up issues you were deliberately or unconsciously ignoring, it is important to factor these back into the equation. Again, scenarios must be true to the market realities (no matter how unreal these realities may seem) and not to your desired outcomes. At this point of the scenario planning process you should now know the following: __ the nature of your question __ your scenario title __ the key drivers defining and dominating it __ the key weaknesses in all social, civic, cultural, ethical and technological areas, etc., which are set to impact on it __ the key weaknesses within the business or brand that the above drivers have alerted you to __ the key items you now need to arm yourself with if you are to answer the question that has been posed in a positive and proactive way
9- Interpretation and implementation
Once you have plotted each scenario and provided yourself with answers for the above bullet points, you will now need to look at the strategic implications of your answer. In many cases, even the most comprehensive scenario plans are unsuccessful because stakeholders themselves fail to implement the agreed plan in a way that is measureable and transparent. In the United Kingdom and the United States, where the methodology of the American School prevails (see page 152), once the plan is created it is up to the stakeholders involved to implement it. The European School follows a different route. Drawing very much on the techniques and processes developed by Michel Godet at LIPSOR, once the scenario planning process is complete, stakeholders and the scenario planning team leader must appoint a committee to agree a timeframe for delivering the plan, as well as a set of independently assessed benchmarks against which the success of the plan itself is measured.Plans also fail because the people who implement them fail to include new ideas or to restructure their original plan in an organic and ongoing way. It is important, therefore, to make sure that all plans incorporate a feedback mechanism, or have a number of people working on their implementation whose sole purpose is to update them as and when new data or insights become available.