Humans planning illusionary scenarios

June 4, 2006 § 3 Comments

The Ponzo Illusion relies on the fact that par...

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A group of analysts generate scenario planning simulation games for policy makers. The games combine known facts about the future, such as in environmental, demographics, geography, military, political, social, and science issues, industrial information, and (limiting) resources such as mineral reserves, with plausible alternative trends which are key driving forces of the games.

If it isn’t real then why play these games?

It isn’t real. It is make-believe, pretend. But … the scenario planning process/choreography can reveal anticipatory thinking elements that can be difficult to formalise, such as subjective experiences during its sessions, shifts in values, new regulations, guides, and/or sudden insights for innovative and sustainable products and services.

And it is like kata’s in Martial Arts. By using our imagination we imagine the worst and best cases and come better prepared for either, and in general for “facing” that which we don’t like to see or hear or tend to be in denial about. So it is a training in decision making and risk management of the very best kind. Of course we dare be prepared to be surprised! We have our very own well trained captains aboard!

Is it only about the future?

No. One of its biggest benefits is that people are removed from “reality”, placed in some “future” as if it is real, and then brainstorm and practice possible responses to potential threats, challenges, and opportunities.

  • 80% or more of the creativity comes during the first few hours that scenario planning teams brainstorm their story elements, implications, and responses.
  • If a simulation is made from a set of likely scenarios, improved organisational performance and clear congruent decision making can be expected for years after.
  • Can be used for decision making when organisations are facing a critical issue and implicitly look to scenarios for help in making a decision now, immediately, and is very effective at discovering 80% of the likely effects of our decisions.
  • Use only for long term vision forming and anticipation when organisations are comfortable with system transformations. This is the very-fast-and-effective path, but comes at a price: The games are likely to conjure up that which is tacitly denied.

Psychology of system transformations

The whole idea is not to manipulate the future, yet it might, be it in positive ways, especially when using the inductive approach.

We practice how we deal with what might happen, and raise our awareness to see it coming in time if and when it actually does, whatever the “it” is. We increase our self-confidence, an essential ingredient for being action-able when needed.

So its main value is not just in the tangible results of a scenario planning session. Just as with (business) planning, it’s value builds up in the people experiencing the sessions, not only in the plan.

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