Scenario Thinking: Explore and Synthesize (Phase Two/Three)

Scenario thinking has five basic phases as outlined in What if? The Art of Scenario Thinking for NonProfits.
  • Phase One (Orient) –  creates a clearly articulated issue/question
  • Phase Two (Explore) –  identifies all driving forces.
  • Phase Three (Synthesize) – prioritizes driving forces
  • Phase Four (Act)
  • Phase Five (Monitor)

Phase Two: Explore

Begin Phase Two by brainstorming all the driving forces potentially impacting the organization beyond the day-to-day.  “Driving forces are the forces of change outside your organization that will shape future dynamics in both predictable and unpredictable ways.” (P.27, What if? The Art of Scenario Thinking for NonProfits)

Remember that driving forces can be reasonably predictable or the vaguest of uncertainties and it’s important to them all.

 

Phase Three:  Synthesize

Phrase Three is where the scenarios start to take shape by prioritizing the driving forces brainstormed in the Explore phase.  The driving forces with the most relevance to the issue or question discovered in the Orient phase and the most uncertainty should be prioritized the highest.  The selected driving forces become the foundation for our scenarios.

Using two driving forces, create a matrix with four quadrants. (example taken from What if? The Art of Scenario Thinking for NonProfits)

Less——government ——More

Weak—–economy———-Strong

 

The four quadrants will create four scenario frameworks.

  • Less government with weak economy
  • More government with weak economy
  • Less government with strong economy
  • More government with strong economy

Create narratives for each scenario framework that start in the present and run into the future.  Remember, it is a story not a dissertation or analysis.  “Content is less important than the types of conversations they spark and decisions they spark.” (P.30, What if? The Art of Scenario Thinking for NonProfits)

The narratives will eventually fade to the background as more conversations begin to reveal opportunities and threats. Conversations should become the focus and not the scenarios.