Strategic foresight is valuable for any organizations to have as the future becomes the present, unfortunately, many organizations implement strategic planning but do not progress to strategic foresight (Yorkovich, 2007). Strategic foresight Can enhance an organization’s ability to diligently prepare itself favorably for the future, where strategic planning is focused primarily on the present (Appiah & Sarpong, 2015).
A vital tool in the strategic foresight process is scenario planning. Scenario planning is used to surface assumptions decision makers have in regards to their environment in order to change their perspective (Chermack, 2011). Scenario planning allows leaders to move beyond the assumption the present reality will endure, and realize tomorrow’s world will be fundamentally different (Chermack, 2011).
One question regarding scenario planning is when to integrate scenario planning for optimal benefits. A proper strategic foresight process includes environmental horizon scanning, which is the process by which intelligence about the nature of change is developed through a systematic examination of ongoing trends and emerging signals (Juech, 2006). Through horizon scanning, organizations and leaders become aware of changes and trends in the present environment that present future shifts that will fundamentally effect how they operate.
The process of horizon scanning can possibly shed some light on when scenario planning should be implemented. One such place would be when the horizon scanning process reveals a trend or pattern that may significantly impact an organization’s well being. Scenario planning can detect blind spots, avoid surprises, and increase an organization’s capacity to adjust when a trend begins to make an impact. Though this may be an opportune point to implement scenario planning, it is believed that scenario planning can inform decision making at any point along a decision spectrum, whether short term tactical points of decision or long term strategic planning (Kennedy et al., 2003)
Appiah, G., & Sarpong, D. (2015). On the influence of organisational routines on strategic foresight. Foresight : The Journal of Futures Studies, Strategic Thinking and Policy, 17(5), 512–527.
Chermack, T. J. (2011). Scenario planning in organizations: how to create, use, and assess scenarios. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler.
Juech, C. (2006). Horizon Scanning to Improve Social Impact (Forum for the Future) (pp. pp. 1–18). The Rockefeller Foundation.
Kennedy, P., Perrottet, C., & Thomas, C. (2003). Scenario planning after 9/11: managing the impact of a catastrophic event. Strategy & Leadership, 31(1), 4–13. http://doi.org/10.1108/10878570310455006
Yorkovich, S. (2007). Why Strategic Foresight. Leadership Advance Online, (iss. 7).