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Scenario Planning

Scenarios are stories about the future.  Scenario planning encourages an organization to challenge deeply held assumptions and to chart a clear path forward through difficult and uncertain times.  Scenario thinking allows an organization to engage around what it does not know and/or cannot control, as well as external forces that define the environment in which it must operate. These unknown forces that shape an entity’s external environment are called “critical uncertainties” and form the foundation on which scenarios are created. In scenario thinking, an organization does not choose one scenario and plan toward it, but plans around a set of scenarios that elevate the most critical uncertainties that organization needs to address.  The future will never be exactly as described in any one scenario but will be made up of components of all the scenarios that are created. By planning around the full set of scenarios, the strategies identified are both robust (meaning they work across the full set of uncertainties) and adaptive to the dynamic and changing environment in which the organization operates.

Scenario planning is an outside-in planning process having an organization define a clear focus for its strategic planning effort and then thinking broadly about trends and dynamics that are highly relevant to the organization and its focus and are also highly uncertain.

The power of scenario planning comes from the ability of the participants to stretch their thinking beyond conventional wisdom in developing the scenario content itself - to re-imagine the present and future in new and surprising ways.   To help the client accomplish this, Stratus recommends that clients consider inviting external guests to join the scenario development process who act as provocateurs. Stratus maintains relationships with a wide range of provocative thinkers who help clients stretch beyond conventional wisdom in a wide range of disciplines and areas of study.


In the early stages of the Stratus collaborative process, a thorough exploration of the client’s current strategic context is undertaken. Through that process blind spots in their strategic thinking and positioning often emerge. Stratus then works with the client to identify provocateurs from both the Stratus and client networks to invite into the scenario development process.

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