A ROAD MAP FOR CHANGING OUR FUTURE
Around the world, disasters are more frequent and more costly. The future cannot be predicted, but scenario planning enables businesses to identify the external factors that are most likely to cause significant disruptions and then prepare to deal with them before a catastrophe actually occurs.
This process begins with identifying situations that might possibly arise within the next 10 to 15 years based on factors and trends that can be recognized now. Then, organizations must narrow down their lists to the two most potentially influential but uncertain factors. The next step is developing a “matrix” yielding four scenarios based on the interaction of those two factors. It then becomes possible for them to consider which of these scripts best represents the present, which seems most likely to describe the future, and what steps they must take to survive in the emerging reality.
The successful application of this process builds what is called adaptive foresight, which can serve as the foundation for the kind of strategic plan that enables organizations to thrive amid uncertainty. This involves prioritizing projects and initiatives based on their relevance to long-term survival. In other words, taking the most essential steps to reduce the risks that businesses may face. It will all be useless, however, unless the planning process leads to concrete, sustained action, guided by periodic assessments to help clarify what point in the scenario has been reached and whether the strategic plan needs to be modified. Over time, new business possibilities will be revealed.
Before commencing the journey toward greater sustainability, however, it is essential for organizations to establish where they stand currently in terms of environmental, social, and ethical concerns, including their compliance with all legal requirements. This will entail substantial research to compile a picture that can form the basis for strategic decisions on every aspect of these businesses. To be successful, however, changes must be integral–sustainability cannot be simply tacked on to an existing management strategy. By spelling out specific objectives that will create the needed changes in the context of expanded value and then tracking progress toward achieving them, companies can discover their own viable paths toward vibrant and sustainable futures.