Over the next few posts I will be briefly summarizing how to do Scenario Thinking. They will not be super compelling but they will be concise summaries serving as a quick and accessible reference.
What if? The Art of Scenario Thinking for NonProfits has outlined five basic phases (Orient, Explore, Synthesis, Act, Monitor) to be used as a guide and can be easily adapted to better suit your context.
Phase One: Orient
The scenario planning process begins by determining the issue/question to be explored. Working through the Orient phase will result in a clearly articulated issue/question to which all other scenario thinking phases will be tethered.
Begin by determining the time horizon (5 yrs., 10 yrs., 20 yrs.) for the scenario thinking initiative. Next, conduct one-on-one interviews with organizational decision-makers and external thought leaders to identify organizational challenges. Be sure to keep the questions broad and open ended to reveal the underlying assumptions and hidden beliefs people have.
Looking for patterns in your interviews will reveal the question/issue to be addressed throughout the rest of the scenario thinking process. It should be articulated as objectively as possible and cover the same time horizon used in the interviews. Two possible examples below.
Over the next “x” years, should the organization pursue a path towards growth?
Over the next “x” years, which initiatives/programs/projects should the organization shed in order to be more agile?
Can you think of three possible interview questions? Now put the questions through the liminal thinking lens. Will they reveal the interviewee’s beliefs and needs?