Scenario Planning A Review

Essay by stevengoodUniversity, Master's March 2004

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Part 1


This report provides a critical review of three academic papers on the content arguments and issues of scenario planning.

The papers which have been used for this analysis are as follows:

"h Scenario Planning: a tool for strategic thinking. Paul J.H. Schoemaker.

"h Scenario thinking about the future. Kees van der Heijden.

"h How scenarios trigger strategic thinking. Stephen M. Millett.

The report gives a brief introduction to scenario planning and places it in context with other approaches. Key themes from the literature are identified particularly in respect of context, processes and benefits.

Evolution and Context

Approaches to strategy are many and varied and a number of tools have been developed to assist in strategic management. Van der Heijden (1996) suggests that many approaches are based on copying ideas that work for others and whilst this seems valid it misses the fundamental issue of competitive advantage being dependant on being different.

Many traditional tools actually analyse why success has been achieved rather than put forward specific strategies for action. Van der Heijden (1996) outlines the historic and traditional planning processes of the 50's and 60's as being shaped by the structured and non threatening nature of the environment. The future at that time was seen as relatively well defined and therefore relatively simple to predict. He refers to Mintzberg's predict and control principle which is dependant on what van der Heijden describes as "stable interfaces between actors in society". 1 Simple forecasts could be made during this stable period based on the assumption that the past can be extended into the future. The late 60's began a period of rapid, worldwide change, which rendered such traditional planning and forecasting methods as inaccurate and failing to take account of not only dramatic transformation but also changing values. Significantly...