Scenario planning is an effective step in the strategic foresight process. Organizations who utilize scenario planning position themselves to anticipate future possibilities and even take advantage of opportunities missed by others who don’t use scenario planning in their strategic development (Chermack, 2011). Through the process, scenario planning also has the potential to build a creative culture within the organization.
Organizations who engage in scenario planning on a regular basis develop the ability to capture a whole range of scenario possibilities at a depth of detail that is not normally reached (Schoemaker, 1995). Traditional strategic development tools equip organizational teams to assess the current environments and possibilities, but this does not require a great deal of creative thinking since the scenario being assessed is currently a reality. Scenario planning assists in the consideration of novel, unexpected, unforeseen, unique, and radical situations that present unintended consequences (Ramirez et al., 2010). Scenario planning is a creative process by definition, and as organizational leaders participate in activities aimed at generating a variety of future possibilities for strategic alternatives, they become more acclimated to thinking creatively (Chermack et al., 2015). This is reflective of creative culture development and cultivation (Chermack et al., 2015).
The growth of a culture that is bent toward creativity is poised to more effectively engage in preparation for future opportunities by being innovative. Innovation is a process of developing and implementing new ideas (Chermack et al., 2015), and when organizational leaders engage in activities such as innovation, they also develop a greater sense of motivation and engagement which raises morale (Meissner & Wulf, 2013).
Though scenario planning requires a great deal of time and commitment by organizational leaders (Chermack, 2011), the benefits seem to be worth it. The development of a creative culture that is effective at innovation and opportunistic future positioning will create competitive advantage to tackle the future.
Chermack, T. J. (2011). Scenario planning in organizations: how to create, use, and assess scenarios. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler.
Chermack, T. J., Coons, L. M., Nimon, K., Bradley, P., & Glick, M. B. (2015). The Effects of Scenario Planning on Participant Perceptions of Creative Organizational Climate. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 22(3), 355–371. http://doi.org/10.1177/1548051815582225
Meissner, P., & Wulf, T. (2013). Cognitive benefits of scenario planning: Its impact on biases and decision quality. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 80(4), 801–814. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.techfore.2012.09.011
Ramírez, R., Selsky, J. W., & Van der Heijden, K. (Eds.). (2010). Business planning for turbulent times: new methods for applying scenarios (2nd ed). London ; Washington: Earthscan.
Schoemaker, P. J. H. (1995). Scenario Planning: A Tool for Strategic Thinking. Sloan Management Review, 36, 25–40.