Scenario Planning Scenario Planning

Rising uncertainty about the future business environment requires a powerful tool to successfully manage futures. Perhaps now more than ever, the need to rigorously imagine alternative outcomes is essential for business leaders to anticipate and prepare for the future. That, of course, is the fundamental rationale for scenario planning.

Since it was founded in 1992, the GBPC has been involved in scenario analysis. Over the intervening period, we have worked to highlight and assess massive changes—political, economic, commercial, social, and technological—with a view to identify potential outcomes out of mainstream thinking. The idea has been, and continues to be, to challenge conventional wisdom by asking penetrating questions and anticipating diverse “wildcard” outcomes.

Scenarios enable us to provide our clients with a more distant horizon and a broader field of vision. This enhanced vision translates into an improved command of strategic alternatives and a sharper understanding of both opportunities and risks.

The benefits of this approach can be significant. Scenarios give firms a structure for dealing with complexity and turbulence, a means by which planners can stress-test their assumptions and conclusions, align leadership, and build shareholder value.

The art of scenario-based strategic planning is to connect the world of “what ifs” with down-to-earth decision-making. This requires translating 40,000-foot concepts into clear and compelling implications for markets, sectors, and individual companies. If done effectively—in a creative, rigorous manner with engaged, open-minded stakeholders—scenario planning can be an invaluable tool for gaining immediate impact and longer-term advantage.

The GBPC works both independently and with A.T. Kearney industry experts from all practice areas to inform the longer-range planning processes of our clients. We have carried out scenario work with a governments, companies, non-profit organizations, and other groups with a view to bringing fresh perspectives and insights to the table. Similarly, our scenarios run the gamut—from macro assessments of the global economy to competing contingencies with implications for specific sectors and industries. The overarching goal is constant: We help our clients escape the gravity of short-term thinking and segmented analysis to strategically prepare for the future.

In 2011, the GBPC began a new chapter by establishing a partnership with the Oxford University Said School of Business, whose scholars lead a world-renowned academic program in scenario planning. The core of this partnership is the annual A.T. Kearney-Oxford University Scenario Program, designed to provide participants with state-of-the-art analyses.

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For more information, contact the Global Business Policy Council.

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