Thinking ahead possible futures with scenarios
In times of growing complexity and uncertainty in the development of markets and branches, the strategic planning faces various new challenges. Short-term focuses on a detailed situation analysis or filed prognostic systems are not sufficient in this context. The ‘race for the future’ in revealing new business potentials seems to be the supreme discipline of strategic management these days. Consequently, future scenarios -besides prognoses and trends- need to be considered as particularly relevant instruments. They no longer depict what will be, but what might be. The goal is not to predict the future, but to think through various possible future developments in order to support the decision making process.
Two main perspectives
In the area of scenario development there are basically two main perspectives:
- With external scenarios, changes in the companies’ environment are thought ahead (e.g. in markets, branches or global surroundings). This is the traditional area of application of the scenario technique or the method of scenario management.
- Additionally, with scenario strategies it is possible to systematically identify, structure and arrange company-owned options. Methodically these scenarios are declared as steering scenarios.
Development, evaluation and application of scenarios
The ScMI AG offers a wide range of portfolio services concerning the development, evaluation and application of scenarios:
Benefits of scenarios for enterprises and organizations
One of the main benefits of scenarios lies in the decision support within the means of strategy development, strategy development, change management or innovation management. In the context of the controversial discussion concerning future questions, enterprises are able to design future orientated strategies going along with a better decision making process. Besides, there are further benefit potentials which can be revealed with the help of scenarios.
- Base for environmental observation: Frequently, these scenarios are important but are not used as a basis for the own strategy. They describe the “white spots” of one´s own strategy sight and indicate on critical bellwether, which spots need to be observed in order to be prepared for changes.
- Generating orientation knowledge: Not all the results of scenario development have to lead to unconditionally immediate decisions. Frequently a “thinking on stock” is very valuable, in order to create faster and more flexible decisions that are to be made in the future. Furthermore, scenario processes create intense social contacts above organizational structures, which can be effectively used over a long period of time.
- Creation of a forum for discussions concerning the future: The time that organizations invest in a jointly discussion about future relevant topics is mostly too little. One of the reasons is that the dealing with non-aimed discussions often results in negative experiences. In contrast, our systematic process of scenario development contains different discussion panels and leads to a collaborative result.
- Linking of future knowledge: The relevant knowledge about markets, industries and external factors is normally already existent within the enterprise. One of the central problems is the diffusion of knowledge in the company and the different “languages” which hamper the communication about the future. Scenarios create an own language and are insofar going beyond the concrete result to a communication platform for the future.