The world is a movie, not a photograph

Scenarios allow you to anticipate significant uncertainties. However, they are always a snapshot in time. What may appear as great uncertainty today can gain momentum (or lose it) in a few years. Sometimes things we consider certain suddenly become questionable. In short, the world doesn’t stop changing once you have developed scenarios. Various events, trends, and developments continue to interact with and influence each other. Scenarios provide a photograph, but the world is a movie. Therefore, it is crucial to monitor what is happening in that world: how important developments are unfolding, which scenarios seem to be getting closer, and which become less likely over time. Only by doing this can you truly see an adaptive organization and make timely strategic adjustments.

By systematically doing this at regular intervals, you ensure some level of assurance and integration in regularly pausing together to consider what everyone is observing happening in the world around us and whether the organization is well-prepared for it. This can be achieved by establishing an Early Warning System (EWS). In an EWS, scenarios serve as lenses to interpret weak signals of change. If you have already practiced scenario development, you have probably experienced how this works. By exploring extremely different futures, you are now able to spot early signs of change around you.

To set up an EWS, there are three things you need to do: 1. Develop change indicators, 2. Establish a dashboard, and 3. Ensure integration into your planning and control cycle. These steps are explained in detail in our new article. You can download it here.

Jeroen Toet is a senior strategist at Jester Jester Foresight. For over 10 years, he has helped organizations in the private and public sector make robust choices for the future using different foresight methods, among which scenario planning.

Question regarding this article? Get in touch with Jeroen: of +31 6 11 45 13 11