What if?… Reimagining the Future

This programme explores multiple, provocative and plausible futures adopting a scenario planning approach. It is based on the premise that leaders rightly reflect on future related questions, ‘what will the future look like?  How will it be different from today? What should I be doing as an individual or we as an organisation in order to progress our mission in the light of these potential challenges?’

Programme Phases

Below is a typical example of the phases covered during ‘Reimagining the Future’ using a scenario planning approach. This format can also be tailored to individual client requirements.

1 Orient

In the first phase the goal is to clarify the true nature of the issues at stake; this will emerge from a thorough exploration of:

a) the perceived challenges facing your organisation and/or church and

b) the primary purpose for engaging in this process of reimagining.

2 Explore

This phase explores the many “driving forces” of change outside your organisation that could shape its future dynamics in predictable and unpredictable ways. E.g. new technologies, political shifts, economic conditions, social dynamics, environmental concerns and religious/faith developments.

3 Synthesize

This phase involves developing potential scenarios based upon the information gleaned in the exploration phase.

4 Act

The ‘litmus test’ of a robust set of scenarios is not whether they portray the future accurately, but whether it enables an individual, team, group, community, organisation and/or institution to learn, adapt and take effective action.

5 Monitor

This phase involves creating mechanisms that will help your organization track shifts in the environment and adjust strategy accordingly.

Bring the ‘ What if?… Reimagining the Future ‘ programme to where you are

If you would like the What if?… Reimagining the Future programme for your business or organisation, then please get in touch with us to discuss what we can do for you.

Leadership in the 21st century involves making numerous decisions about the future for ourselves, teams, groups, communities, organisations and institutions. These decisions are made against a backdrop of rapid change, deepening complexity, growing uncertainty and a poor awareness of multiple and overlapping contexts. For example, at the beginning of the 21st century, a number of organisations are experiencing decline or by contrast, are experiencing significant growth.  Many are facing major decisions about whether to sustain or expand their present facilities, continue to operate in the same way, outsourcing or relocating to another location or even sell their property and facilities.  Austerity measures and declining budgets further compound such issues.

Leaders rightly ask the following questions, what will the future look like?  How will it be different from today? What should I be doing as an individual or we as an organisation in order to progress our mission in the light of these potential challenges?

Standard approaches to strategic planning, envisioning and mission fulfilment, focus on analysis but in a difficult climate, knowledge alone is no longer the key to progress.

“To deal with the future we have to deal with possibilities. Analysis will only tell us ‘What is’.”  (Edward de Bono Parallel Thinking)

The critical skill for today is ‘foresight’. Traditionally leaders prepare for the world they inhabit rather than the one they may eventually live in. So how can leaders ask better questions and consequently make better decisions?  Scenarios enable those keen to participate in the process of discernment regarding the future, to become intentionally and systematically aware of the broader context, as well as, the paradigms informing their assumptions which, ultimately affect their decision-making.

Jay Ogilvy and Peter Schwartz of Global Business Network describe scenarios as “narratives of alternative environments in which today’s decisions may be played out. They are not predictions. Nor are they strategies, instead they are more like hypotheses of different futures specifically designed to highlight the risks and opportunities involved in specific strategic issues.”

“Scenarios are structured, systemic stories constructed to explore organisational contexts; they are manufactured for given purposes and identified decision-makers. With scenarios, the future is appreciated to better understand opportunities, threats and challenges. Often, scenarios are deployed to evaluate options for action, and to develop new such options. Scenario thinking is a capability that uses longer and broader views of possible futures to more clearly appreciate a world clouded by information overload, rapid change, irreconcilable certitudes and/or persistent uncertainty.” Rafael Ramirez (Director Oxford Scenarios Programme).

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