The manager, a writer of scenarios
22 March 2017 - 21:56, by , in Geen categorie, No comments

Our society is struggling with countless uncertainties. What appeared to be obvious in the past is today indeterminate. This is certainly the case at the economic level too. How can you handle this new situation and how can you get your business ready to face the challenge? Teacher and expert Bert van Thilborgh emphasizes the importance of forward-thinking and scenario planning in times of uncertainties:

“Twenty years ago, a job at Sabena or in education was considered a lifetime guarantee of good, reliable work. In the case of Sabena we were quickly brought down to earth. It became clear that state-owned companies or large multinationals do not necessarily provide absolute certainty. In the case of education, it may be different, but also here the first bursts become noticeable. In Greece, teachers had to give back 300 euro from their wages each month and at the highlight of the crisis, wage payments were even delayed up to three months. Uncertainty becomes a permanent issue in all aspects of our lives and we must learn to deal with it. ”

Think in terms of scenarios: What if…
“But how do you do that? To dare to ask questions is a step we cannot underestimate. ‘Wat als’ is not just a fun TV Belgian show. It is useful to ask “what if …” questions and that is something we do by nature. They are useful questions to ask, not only in our private life, but also in a working context. These types of questions are in line with the methodology of ‘scenario planning’. It teaches us to image the future, to map uncertainties and to identify opportunities.
There are several methods that can help you with scenario planning, such as forecasting and backcasting. Forecasting is drawing expectations out of expectations applied on present circumstances. It is an attempt to extend the present in order to visualize what the future would be like. In backcasting, we start with the point where we want to be in the future after which you will wonder how your business or product evolved in that particular direction. ”

Plan for the future
“As opposed to past and present, the future is not set in a stone and it can be even partly changed. That makes the future exciting. It offers perspectives to organizations and companies’ to make important strategic choices and decisions. In this way, scenario planning is an instrument for planning. Scenarios also stimulate thinking, reflection and collective learning. ”

The atelier: brainstorming

“Most companies or organizations use scenario planning to develop new businesses, create new products or design a new portfolio of policy instruments. In this case, scenarios are used as a workshop for designing creative and new ideas. The scenarios form the basis for brainstorming about creative solutions and new concepts. One may ask questions like “What are we not yet doing now?” and “What should we do in the future?” Finally, scenario planning can also be used as an evaluation tool to verify the potential threats and how strong is the organization for the near future.”

Ready for any scenario

“Several organizations and companies have proven that you can imagine potential future possibilities and anticipate on changes with scenario planning. Shell began using scenario planning in the 1970s as a response to the OPEC oil crisis. Shell organizes a new overall reflection workshop for each lustrum, which leads to new scenarios and provides guidance for future strategic decisions. They will certainly reap the benefits. Shell is 100% prepared when the last drop of petroleum is pumped. Thanks to the scenarios developed in recent years, Shell has been transformed into an energy company with a variety of commercial activities, which differentiate it sufficiently to remain profitable in the longer term.”

At each level
“South Africa as a country, also worked out in 1992 a future scenario. South Africa was economically on its knees, and the power of the white minority regime was nibbled by the great black majority, who also got a mythical icon as a leader with the release of Nelson Mandela. The so-called Montfleur scenarios for South Africa were developed by a group of 20 influential South Africans by using the intuitive method. The challenge for South Africa was whether the black majority and the white minority could sign a society agreement for the future. This question was the basis for 4 future scenarios for South Africa. At the end, it was found that the best scenario had become the flight of the flamingos’ reality and that South Africa had made the transition to a democratic order and experienced economic growth. But perhaps the greatest merit lies in the decision making process made possible thanks to scenario planning.

The English did not prepare their Brexit based on future scenarios. If they would have done this then they should have not had panic football now but they did not learn the lesson from South African people. ”

A compass for every company
“Are future scenarios exclusively for countries or super-large multinationals? Of course they are not. Every entrepreneur is struggling with uncertainties and dilemmas about the future of his company and the valuable products and services that his company produces. With the scenario method, we can learn business leaders, CEOs and institutions navigate with the right compass to shape the future. As a result, they will become stronger and will ensure the continuity of their organization in the future.

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