Scenario planning, also called scenario thinking and scenario analysis, is a strategic planning method that Mishal offers to make flexible long-term plans for its clients. It is in large part an adaptation and generalization of classic methods used by traditional intelligence gathering and making future scenarios.

The original method is that a group of analysts would generate simulation for policy makers. The collective scenarios will be known facts about the future, such as demographics, geography, military, political, industrial, information, and, with plausible alternative social, technical, economic, environmental, educational, political and aesthetic (STEEEPA) trends which are key driving forces.

Scenario planning may involve aspects of systems thinking, specifically the recognition that many factors may combine in complex ways to create sometime surprising futures (due to non-linear feedback loops). The method also allows the inclusion of factors that are difficult to formalize, such as novel insights about the future, deep shifts in values, unprecedented regulations or inventions. This used in conjunction with scenario planning leads to plausible scenario story lines because the causal relationship between factors can be demonstrated. In these cases when scenario planning is integrated with a systems thinking approach to scenario development, it is sometimes referred to as structural dynamics.

Crafting Scenarios

These combinations and permutations of fact and related social changes are called “scenarios.” The scenarios usually include plausible, but unexpectedly important situations and problems that exist in some small form in the present day. Any particular scenario is unlikely. However, future studies analysts select scenario features so they are both possible and uncomfortable. Scenario planning helps policy-makers to anticipate hidden weaknesses and inflexibilities in organizations and methods.

When disclosed years in advance, these weaknesses can be avoided or their impacts reduced more effectively than if similar real-life problems were considered under duress of an emergency. For example, a company may discover that it needs to change contractual terms to protect against a new class of risks, or collect cash reserves to purchase anticipated technologies or equipment. Flexible business with “PREsponse protocols” helps cope with similar operational problems and deliver measurable future value-added.