Following a brief refresher on classic scenario planning, hosts Jim Love, CIO of ITWC, and Doug Sparkes, a lecturer at the Conrad School of Entrepreneurship and Business, riff collegially on how to avoid functional fixedness while identifying and developing scenarios.
During his early years of experimentation with scenario planning, Pierre Walk (see earlier episodes) encouraged his team to consider any scenario as long as it could not be rendered implausible through logical reasoning. Disdaining the notion that scenarios are basically stories, he defined them as complex perceptual world frameworks of different possible futures based on various assumptions. The paradox, according to Love and Sparkes, is that scenarios can’t be generated by AI; they have to come from people. And people have inherent biases towards the very thing from which scenario planning tries to break free.
According to this 14-minute podcast, one of the keys to successful scenario planning is back-casting: a way of creating stories about the future that can lead to a willingness to challenge deeply held beliefs. By working backwards from the future, back-casting allows a major goal to be broken down into subsections based on a company’s present strengths and future capacity.
Referencing a scenario that foresees the end of retail, as we know it, by 2035, Sparkes demonstrates back-casting by considering what must have been happening in the years prior to 2035. This allows him to arrive at a trajectory of potential events and possible opportunities. He concludes the podcast with a summary of scenario planning resources prepared for listeners, including a resource kit and other tools.