Strategic Landscape
Strategic Landscape

Hardin Tibbs' paper,  Making the Future Visible: Psychology, Scenarios and Strategy, is a must-read paper for anyone interested in using scenario planning.  Tibbs writes about the future as a strategic landscape and uses this graphic to explain it (reproduced with the author's permission). The "star" in Hardin's image is the long term guiding purpose for an organisation, the reason why organisations exist, and the pull of the future that keeps us going when the chessboard gets difficult to navigate. 

The chessboard is the land of scenarios, where we develop strategies to move us closer to the star. The key in futures work is to clearly define your star, and keep your eye on that as you move through the chessboard of day-to-day life.

Books on Scenario Planning

Liam Fahey and Robert Randall, Learning from the Future, Competitive Foresight Scenarios,  New York: Wiley, 1997.

Mats Lindgren, Hans Bandhold, Bruce Pilbeam, Scenario Planning: The Link Between Future and Strategy¸ Palgrave: Macmillan, 2003.

Gill Ringland, Scenario Planning, Managing for the Future, John Wiley and Sons, 1998.

And another: Scenarios in Business and Scenarios in Public Policy, both published by John Wiley and Sons, 2002.

Peter Schwartz, The Art of the Long View, New York: Doubleday, 1991.  (This was the book that introduced me to the futures field before I knew what it was.  I heard a presentation from futurist Suzanne Haydon at an ATEM Conference in Perth in 1997; she mentioned this book and off I went and bought it.  It is a bit of a classic and well worth reading.)

And another:  Inevitable Surprises: Thinking Ahead in Times of Uncertainty, New York: Gotham Books, 2003.

Kees Van der Heijden, Scenarios: The Art of Strategic Conversation, John Wiley and Sons, 1996.And another: The Sixth Sense, also published by John Wiley and Sons, 2002.

GBN (Global Business Network) produced a scenario planning guide for non-profit organisations titled The Art of Scenario Thinking which is an excellent reference guide.

Good Websites on the art of Scenario Planning

These links will get you started, but you will soon find plenty of your own.

Strategic Business Insights

Laboratory for Investigation in Prospective Strategy and Organization

Shell Scenarios

Some Consulting Firms Specialising in Scenario Planning

SAMI Consulting

Strategic Business Insights

Future Exploration Group

Future Strategy Group

Other Resources

On writing scenarios: the work of Betty Sue Flowers at Shell, and Shell's An Explorer's Guide.

A generous list of scenario planning resources by Martin Börjesson.

The often cited "Wired" article on building scenarios.

McKinsey Quarterly article on the use and abuse of scenarios.

Volume 13, Number 3 (2009) of the Journal of Futures Studies has a number of articles in a 'scenario symposium', reflecting on the current state of scenario planning.