Preparing for Scenario Planing

An effective tool in the process of strategic foresight is the use of scenario planning. Scenario planning is used for surfacing assumptions in order to change how decision makers see the environment they interact with and serve (Chermack, 2011). It is the part of strategic planning which relates to the tools and technologies used to manage the uncertainties of the future (Ringland, 1998) and capture a whole range of possibilities in rich detail (Schoemaker, 1995).

A vital step in scenario planning is project preparation. This portion of scenario planning is what sets the foundation for the entire process. It is this step where decision makers, leaders, and sponsors are provided the opportunity to share their frustrations as well as those things that excite them (Chermack, 2011). This provides a clear perspective on the environment in which the scenario planning is being performed within and creates agreement of direction in the process to insure the exercise has clear purpose (Chermack, 2011). There are five critical items agreement is sought in: the purpose and question of the scenario project, the estimated scope and timeline, the team and roles of each member, the general expected outcomes, and the measurements needed to assess the success level of the scenario planning project (Chermack, 2011).

If agreement in these areas is not established, it can derail the entire project. If a proper timeline is not established, members of the team may develop their own timeline which can create impatience, tension if moving too slowly, or even ineffectiveness if moving too quickly. If clear measurements are not established to determine success level of the project, individuals can walk away from the exercise with completely different perspectives on whether or not the project was a success, which may also determine whether the exercise is repeated in the future.


Chermack, T. J. (2011). Scenario planning in organizations: how to create, use, and assess scenarios. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler.

Ringland, G. (1998). Scenario planning: managing for the future. Chichester ; New York: Wiley.

Schoemaker, P. J. H. (1995). Scenario Planning: A Tool for Strategic Thinking. Sloan Management Review, 36, 25–40.

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