In 2009 I was asked to develop and facilitate a scenario planning session using the tools and methods of visual mapping. The board of directors of a Dutch training organization showed interest in the development of graphically mapped out possible future scenarios, so to be better prepared for future business opportunities. In the meantime I facilitated many of these sessions with other organizations and individuals, and the results were rather interesting!
Fundamental changes are occurring in the ways in which we understand and solve problems. They influence most aspects of our personal and business life. Former tried and tested formulae of the past no longer fit to the future needs of problem solving and planning.
Albert Einstein: “The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them”.
What is Scenario Mapping?
Scenario mapping is a robust strategic method which can be used in diverse ways. Scenario Mapping is a method where (after finding out what the core questions of issues are, together with the people and groups involved) in a mini workshop is explored what the driving forces and trends are. This is done with the help of mind mapping (by hand and/or with the help of software).
The grouped results are the basis for a second follow-up mini workshop where 2 – 4 less or more possible future scenarios are developed in the form of mind maps and discussed. Thus the participants (at all levels of authority) know what’s going on now and in probable future scenarios within their organization …
The result of this form of Mapping is a set of ‘Scenario Maps’ which graphically express an alternative look at possible and/or impossible (?) futures – they are however not predictions! With the assistance of these scenarios an organization can react faster to current and probable changing business conditions and opportunities.
Participants are often surprised by the speed and impact of Scenario Mapping sessions!
What is the purpose of Scenario Mapping?
Scenario Mapping helps to improve the performance of organizations by:
• Stimulating creativity focusing on the future
• Discover new possible opportunities for improvement
• Find new perspectives
… And can be done when
• We lose our ambition and sense of urgency
• We perceive issues different than the most important stakeholders
• Current situations are uncertain
• We are more reactive rather than proactive
• We’re not so good at lateral thinking – and need to be graphically inspired
• We want to be more sure about the planned and probable futures
• Plans are written by a small people in a small room and don’t seem to correlate with current realities of the majority
• We would like to involve more people in strategic themes
• We seem to go off at a tangent – there is no common sense for what we see.
Who should be involved with Scenario Mapping?
It is important that everybody is invited who has a picture of the possible future. Just invite everybody whose interest can be stimulated to invest in the future of the organization. Apart from senior management; the inclusion of passionate employees, volunteers, customers, competitors (!), local authorities, suppliers and partners are essential.
Hans Terhurne is a facilitator, trainer and efficiency coach using the ingredients ‘dialogue’, ‘visual mapping’ and ‘creative problem solving techniques’ to generate involvement and commitment for the next step in business management items. The name of his organization is CreaMatics – active in a systematic way and finding new solutions for today’s challenges.