In the Amsterdam Metropolitan Region (MRA) 33 municipalities in the Dutch provinces of North-Holland and Flevoland cooperate on issues such economic development, spatial planning, mobility, and energy. Both provinces and the regional transport authority also participate. The MRA Agenda is an important strategic document for these cooperating and coordinating governments. The agenda has 7 strategic pillars at its core. These pillars contain various joint actions and goals which the participants aim to achieve the coming years. The action list is frequently updated. When the agenda running to 2020 came at its end, a new agenda needed to be developed, as also mandated by the partnership’s covenant.

Adapting to a vastly different world

That obligation was not the only reason why the MRA wanted to thoroughly review its Agenda. The first iteration of it was formulated in what can only be considered a different era, the time right after the financial crisis of ‘07/’08. The update had to be formulated in a world that has changed considerably since. Brexit, Trump, an extremely tight housing market in the region. A very different world since its inception. Who knows that the future has in store for the region and what new challenges and opportunities the Agenda has to account for?

Updating and enriching existing scenarios

Given the sheer unpredictability of the world and good past experiences with the method, the MRA decided to use scenario planning. Luckily, there already was a good set of scenarios that many governments in the region were familiar with.

Originally developed for the Amsterdam Economic Board in 2012, Jester has updated the scenarios ever since for various government stakeholders in the region. Not only have the scenarios been updated several times, they have also been further enriched and tailored towards specific themes, ranging from housing market to specific economic clusters, from tourism to logistics of the future. Various regional experts lent their insights to enrich and detail the scenarios for the topics of the seven pillars of the Agenda.

Over the years, Jester has enriched and polished the MRA scenarios so expertly that they are the perfect conversation starter for discussions for future-oriented strategy. We will use the scenarios in further stages of the process as well.”

Ilknur Donmez – Project Manager MRA Agenda 2.0 and MRA Investment Agenda

Inspiring the strategic conversation

In a session with strategists from the various regional governments, the scenarios have been used to brainstorm on future challenges and opportunities the new Agenda needed to account for. With a scenario game, the strategists also discussed which scenarios were deemed the most likely and which ones the region was least prepared for. These scenarios, and their challenges and opportunities, might need to receive some extra attention in developing the new Agenda. During the session, the strategists came up with strategic responses to the scenarios’ challenges and opportunities.

‘Wind tunneling’ new ideas and existing choices

The strategic responses, along with actions listed in the existing Agenda, were stress-tested using the scenarios. This gave the MRA insight into which of these existing actions and new ideas were good no matter which scenario and which ones were a bit more risky (more scenario-specific). These insights informed the choices and actions mentioned in the finalized new Agenda.

Want to know more?

For more information regarding this project please feel free to contact Jeroen Toet.