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Scenario Planning


Scenario planning is a specialized strategic thinking activity that develops alternative futures and examines their impact on the enterprise.  It is a creative process of visualizing how the world might look tomorrow and identifying the signposts which will indicate which of these future scenarios is evolving.  

Scenario planning is most useful in evaluating the risk associated with a major decision by examining possible decision outcomes under a variety of future scenarios.


Symptoms indicating the need for scenario planning.

  • The industry or enterprise is driven by evolving or state of the art technology.
  • The industry or enterprise is heavily influenced by political, social, or demographic considerations.
  • Major investment, acquisition, or financing decisions are being considered.
  • Changes in business or competitive strategy are being contemplated.

Three Sigma's services

We facilitate and coach scenario planning processes to help executives examine the risk associated with key decisions under consideration.  

We use a model developed by Peter Schwartz and others at Royal Dutch/Shell to help executives:

  • Uncover the focal issue driving the decision under consideration.

  • Identify the key factors influencing this decision.

  • Identify the driving forces behind these key factors.

  • Create plots and scripts defining the range of possible scenarios and the logic that makes each scenario plausible.

  • Evaluate the decision under consideration against each of these scenarios.

  • Select the leading indicators which will signal the unfolding of each scenario.

We develop customized interactive organizational models to evaluate the operating and financial results from different scenarios ("what if" exercises) and coach executives how to use these models as a tool for more informed decisions.

For executives who choose to conduct scenario planning using their own resources, the following models and tools are available on this website and can be copied or downloaded free of charge. 

We provide coaching on-site, by phone or e-mail to help or facilitate using these models and tools.

Expected results

Understanding the vulnerabilities revealed in each of  the postulated scenarios will give greater confidence in the outcome of the decision under consideration.

A well thought out selection of the leading indicators and signposts will provide early knowledge which of the postulated scenarios is closest to the course of history that is unfolding.  This can provide a significant competitive edge by knowing what the future holds.

Customized interactive models of the organization provide the capability to rehearse the future by evaluating multiple strategies and scenarios.

Copyright 2002 Three Sigma, Inc.