As the future is continuously becoming the present and change is happening at a breakneck speed, there are a number of ways strategic foresight can be of use in many different sectors. One specific part of strategic foresight of particular value is scenario planning.
Scenario planning is a discipline of building a set of futures based on internally consistent elements as well as imagined factors; the purpose is to change thinking, improve decision making, foster learning, and improve performance to be better equipped to respond to future scenarios (Chermack, 2011). In other words, scenario planning is a tool for surfacing assumptions so that changes can be made in how decision makers see the environment they interact with and serve (Chermack, 2011).
There are many pressing areas for scenario planning to be implemented and utilized. One pressing area of use is in the American church. In recent years the Millennial Generation has began to come of age and become a major demographic of outreach for the church, however, what many churches are finding is that they are behind in areas such as technology and relational engagement and are missing meaningful connections with Millennials (“The Future of the Church,” 2015). Utilizing scenario planning would allow churches to take a different approach to positioning themselves for the future, equipping them with the ability to understand how tomorrow’s world will be fundamentally different from today’s world (Chermack, 2011).
The hardest part of scenario planning is recognizing a desire to cling to a single answer and make an intentional effort to shift to an open future of vast potentials, regardless if those potentials are positive or negative (Chermack, 2011). This has shown to be a difficulty for the church in the past, however an experienced scenario planning practitioner can detect blind spots, avoid surprises and increase the capacity to help make adjustments when needed (Chermack, 2011).
Chermack, T. J. (2011). Scenario planning in organizations: how to create, use, and assess scenarios. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler.
The Future of the Church. (2015, November 9). Retrieved from http://www.churchmarketingsucks.com/2015/11/the-future-of-the-church/