Posted by: kentropic | July 30, 2009

scenario planning makes a comeback

multi-player chess game, by Garry Conn

My friend and former colleague Matt dropped into town recently, and we met over coffee to catch up on each other’s news. It was great to see him again: he’s a very smart guy with loads of leadership development experience — and he plays a pretty mean rhythm guitar, too.

About a year ago, Matt started studying scenario planning, and he’s grown enthusiastic about its potential to sharpen and improve talent management strategy. After listening to Matt outline the basic concepts, I’m intrigued, too. As often happens, I started noticing articles and blog posts on the topic later that same day.

one scenario planning overview, from Liam Fahey

scenario planning overview from Liam Fahey

From the Wharton Business School to the latest issue of Wired magazine, and numerous points between, scenario planning is making a comeback since its heyday almost 30 years ago.

Originally developed by military planners, the approach first appeared in a commercial setting during the mid-`70s Oil Crisis,¬†gained wide acceptance among business strategists in the early-`80s recession, and resurfaced again in the wake of the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks. Clearly, scenario planning’s embrace of uncertainty and admission of a wide range of possible futures makes it especially appealing in unsettled times.

Mmmm..., tasty outcomes.

So, is this just the latest management flavor of the month, or is scenario planning here to stay? Given the ever-increasing capacity for gathering data and manipulating variables, my guess is that this is a business trend well worth studying for the long haul.

On the other hand, maybe scenario planning is just a desperate and hyper-rationalized attempt to impose order on a resolutely chaotic world. What do you think?

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