LOOKING FORWARD, REASONING BACKWARDS

How to look forward and reason backwards 

'The future ain’t what is used to be' said Yogi Bera. We agree with the brilliant way Yogi describes what’s coming: a complete change in the way we all need to think and reimagine the future. The future cannot be predicted. Nevertheless, we can help you prepare your firm and enable it to tackle what may be forthcoming. World politics, protectionism, pandemics and hostilities are just four of many transformational factors which have put paid to the notion that a conventional strategy based on prediction, can survive its first few obstacles. 

We contend that multi-scenario future planning is a great and powerful way to look forward and reason backwards to develop robust, resilient and flexible strategies for success, which withstand the test of time. It does so through removing dependence on trying to predict the future in a turbulent world. 

Scenario planning is key for developing strategy when there is high uncertainty about the future.  An example here, is erecting a house on ground that is subject to earthquakes and storms.  The point is, it’s done all the time through building in resilience against unpredictable but plausible events.  The challenge for each and every enterprise is to work out what obstacles it may face in future and build in appropriate resilience to overcome them. This is where multi-scenario future planning comes in to its own.

Every firm is unique. Consequently, each needs to develop its own particular strategy for success including the discovery of its own multi-scenario future.

What is multi-scenario future planning?

Multi-scenario future planning is the process of identifying and analysing possible futures, based on different variables, to help prepare in case they become reality. Some food-for-thought bullet-points about scenarios are:

  • They are hypotheses that describe a range of credible futures – not predictions.

  • They help one look forward, reason backwards and overcome obstacles for a brighter future.

  • They overcome the tendency to oversimplify the future through planning for multiple futures.

  • They stretch thinking but are always plausible and logical.

  • They are rich, data-driven, stories about tomorrow that can help you make better decisions today.

  • They combine art and science to form sketch stories of plausible futures - not predictions. Their power is to spark creative conversations and innovative decision making.

  • They help sort out gnarly issues through identifying patterns of change as follows:

Multi-scenario future planning process

Some multi-scenario future planning process food-for-thought bullet-points are:

  • It provides an organising framework that can be used to make sense of conflicting and/or ambiguous political, legal, environmental, technical, social and economic signals (more holistically) today as they appear over time.

  • It challenges people to revisit assumptions about industry and consider a wider range of possibilities about where it may head in future. This exploration results in a broader, more innovative and effective strategic view.

  • It helps a team rehearse for multiple futures and strengthens the organisation's ability to recognise, adapt and take advantage of changes in the industry over time.

 

The process can take many forms, dependent on the application. For example:

The world is becoming far too changeable and gnarly for strategic planning based on prediction to be sustainable for very long.  This is where multi-future scenario planning and its focus on plausibly and not predictability comes in.  Good multi-future scenario planning generates a global picture of what events (good or bad, opportunities or risks) could occur for a particular enterprise, and enables strategies to be developed to face them and take advantage.

It’s argued that most successful companies were ahead of their time.  The way to achieve that happy state, is to harness the power of multi-future scenario planning. Call Approach Limited to help you prepare for your future.