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Journal cover: Strategy & Leadership

Strategy & Leadership

ISSN: 1087-8572
Incorporates: The Antidote

Online from: 1975

Subject Area: Strategy

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Four decades of business scenarios: what can experience teach?

Document Information:
Title:Four decades of business scenarios: what can experience teach?
Author(s):Stephen M. Millett, (Formed the research and consulting firm Futuring Associates LLC, located in Columbus, Ohio)
Citation:Stephen M. Millett, (2013) "Four decades of business scenarios: what can experience teach?", Strategy & Leadership, Vol. 41 Iss: 1, pp.29 - 33
Keywords:Future unknowns, Futuring and visioning, Long-term risk, Research-based scenarios, Scenario learning, Scenario methodology, Scenarios, Scenarios as hypotheses, Scenarios for desirable futures, Subject experts
Article type:Conceptual paper
DOI:10.1108/10878571311290052 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited

PurposeThe author, a veteran futurist, aims to trace the history of the scenario process, starting with those developed by the Shell team that anticipated an OPEC manipulation of oil supplies and prices that occurred in 1973. Largely on the basis of the Shell scenario's brilliant insight, the methodology initially seemed to offer organizations a chance to bet on the future before it happened.

Design/methodology/approachThe paper describes how the best practices in the scenario process identified in this historical review can be adopted by current leaders.

FindingsThe paper reveals that, in cases where the scenarios have effectively influenced corporate decision making, it was because the scenario team stayed together to execute the foresights they reached in the scenario process.”

Practical implicationsScenarios encourage strategic thinking about long-term futures and potential discontinuities in a world that obsesses about the short-term.

Originality/valueThe paper concludes that scenarios, to be most effective, demand a rigor that consumes time and resources. They require leaders to open conduits to information, promote group interactions, encourage disciplined imagination and demand persistent follow-through.

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