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Create Scenarios for a Preferred Future

Margaret Mead:  “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

The key to impacting the future is scenario planning.  The world is constantly changing and individuals, groups, and organizations can become the primary agents for positive change.  The key to creating preferred futures is scenario planing — a process that draws on groups of people to draft narratives/visions/stories that declare possible futures, some to avoid, some inspiring hope.  Scenario casting has transformed public and private visioning processes. 

Today we suffer from a lack of sufficient idealism and inadequate skills for envisioning grand new possibilities.  We are stuck in complacency, cynicism, or worse — despair. 

Most efforts to influence incremental change fail.  Old style strategic planning and visioning processes begin with an analysis of the past — we look for incremental improvements basing our goals on what has been.  In a sense, we place our past into our future.  At times a visioning process produces a shared vision (single) of a predictable future.  This kind of strategic planning has gotten many organizations into trouble in this volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world.  Disruptive changes defeat strategies that are based on what succeeded in the past.

Scenario casting is a flexible tool and its applications are far-reaching.  It can be used to wake up your organization to the challenges and downside of continuing with the status quo.  Or maybe you want to engage and inspire diverse stakeholders by finding common ground for a shared preferred future (check out the information on convening for more information). 

Our society must find creative new ways to address large interdependent challenges.  Scenario casting is an important tool for transformation.  Scenarios are stories about how the future might unfold for our organizations, our issues, our communities, our nations, and even our world.  Scenarios are not predictions.  They are hypotheses — generally a range of three or four future possibilities are developed (good, bad, expected, and surprising).  Done well, scenarios are a tool for envisioning and actualizing great transformations. 

This kind of visionary thinking is a combination of reason and intuition, requiring shifts in consciousness that produce new perspectives and insights.  At its finest, scenario casting helps people and organizations find strength of purpose and adaptive strategies in the face of daunting chaotic, and even frightening circumstances.

The process begins not by analyzing the past, but by identifying many different forces of change in the world. These forces are combined in different ways to create a set of diverse stories about how the future could unfold.  Once the futures are created, the organization or group can begin to imagine their role or contribution toward each of these futures.  Individuals begin to imagine what it would be like to live in each of the futures.  The results are often surprising and profound. 

Robyn Morrison, Create, Initiate, and Engage, can assist you or your organization in casting preferred scenarios for your future.  If you would like more information about how this tool can transform your organization, contact Robyn for a free one-hour consultation. 

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