The role of scenarios in strategic foresight”
In the context of the global financial crisis and the turbulence that this has brought to the world economy and therefore to organisations, the article “The role of scenarios in strategic foresight” by Gill Ringland published in the journal Technological Forecasting & Social change volume 77 (9) aims to persuade the reader on the need for strategic foresight over the next decade and what role scenarios can play within strategy foresight activities in organisations (Ringland, 2010). The author predicts that organisations in the west will experience a period of great change and that they are mostly ill-prepared to deal with the ...view middle of the document...
This view needs to encompass the nature of the organisation along with values, market awareness and assets. An organisation that is successful in the development of these processes is known as a “PS-RO – a purposeful, self-renewing organisation” (Ringland, 2010).
A ‘PS-RO’ organisation has a developed plan for cost reduction, competitiveness and change using well developed qualities of insight, values, narrative, option generation as well as people and processes.
Scenarios are one way to develop strategic foresight as they provide analysis, communication and education to show the possibilities before the company, meaning ideas can be explored and can act as a catalyst for improvement and change. Scenarios provide intelligence, new options and debate up to the point of decision. The author stresses that scenarios are not forecasts, but possible futures that lie ahead.
Ringland suggests that scenarios can have a key role in the development of strategic foresight as mental models and setting the context for futures thinking (Ringland, 2010).
The author describes that scenarios as mental models can assist in strategic foresight by helping to understand complex systems, allowing for debate and use as a prompt for senior management discussions. These can also shape and create images external to the organisation and by focusing on the future they can provide a set of potential worlds which can be used to explore options and drive innovation.
Ringland asserts that scenario methodology can set the context for thinking about the future which can lead to inputs in the actual development of strategic plans. The author discusses three business case studies on the use of scenario methodology. The author concludes that organisations need strategic foresight in order to survive and in the process of developing scenarios, companies can reap the benefits of new ideas, innovation and a change in culture and opportunities.
Article Discussion and Analysis
In order to survive and renew organisations must detect the weak signals of looming opportunities and threats as early as possible and try to integrate these into strategic planning. It makes sense that organisations don’t focus and look for a single vision of the future that matches their expectations, but instead try to acquire multiple views of the future which depict various opportunities or even threats (Varum & Melo, 2010).
Traditional strategic planning and forecasting techniques lean towards inflexibility and largely fail to predict significant changes in markets or industries, especially in very dynamic business environments. The traditional planning process is by in large greeted with groans as it tends to focus on the plan itself. It is mechanical and the emphasis is not on the thinking and exploration of the future, but rather on the now or the very short term, whereas focus should be on building strategic thinking capacity. Anecdotally traditional plans focus on the forecasting...