Use of Scenario Planning LO18147

Fred Nickols (
Thu, 21 May 1998 08:16:42

Replying to Alfredo Gusman in LO18104 --

Alfredo, a student in Buenos Aires working on his thesis, is focusing on
Scenario Planning and its links to the learning organization.

He asks, "Why do you think scenario planning isn't so widely used? Do you
think it is useful only for some organizations (like energy Companies)
which plan for the very long-term? He also cites C.K. Prahalad who seems
to be saying that scenario planning isn't enough, that we need to create
our future instead of adapt to a changing world.

Alfredo closes with:

>Do you think this is the reason why high tech companies don't seem to be
>using scenarios? I'm looking forward to receiving your comments on this
>subject. Thank you for your precious time.

I don't think not using scenario planning ties to "high tech companies"
per se. I think it ties to the rate of change in the business

I think scenario planning is rarely used in rapidly changing contexts
because so much is up for grabs. Scenario planning typically calls for
two or three, maybe four or five, plausible scenarios. In a hectic
environment, the range of possibilities is quite possibly much richer than
that. Speaking only for myself, were I in charge of a company in such an
environment, I would rather bet on my ability to "scramble" than bet the
company on a limited set of scenarios. "Hang loose" is a term that comes
to mind.

That said, I believe scenario planning might have an important role to
play in managing knowledge. Scenarios and other forms of "war games" hold
a lot of promise for teasing out what folks call "tacit" knowledge. It's
hard to think of a better way of finding out how a person's head work than
to put him or her in a simulated situation and turn 'em loose.


Fred Nickols
The Distance Consulting Company

"The Internet offers the best graduate-level education
to be found anywhere."


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