Since Pandemic has been a well known risk for futurists, there are several alresdy existing scenarios that can be used to predict how the future could evolve after the crisis. I have used ‘Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development‘ (entire report is available in the link).
Image: Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development, 2010 by The Rockefeller Foundation and Global Business Network.
Many experts agree that after the covid-19 outbreak New Normal and the future will not be as radically different as many would like to believe. Instead, changes that were already taking place will accelerate e.g. digitalisation, remote working and sustainability efforts.
However, some industries have huge challenges and they need to re-invent products and services e.g. travel, hospitality and live sports.
HOW TO USE SCENARIOS IN PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE
Scenarios are useful planning tools since they help us to see how different conditions in each scenario could play out in reality. Since in reality pure conditions don’t often exist, it is useful to plan for several alternative scenarios at the same time.
1. Start with existing scenarios
‘Scenarios for the Future of Technology and International Development‘ uses two critical uncertainties for differentiation:
Y axis = GLOBAL POLITICAL/ ECONOMIC ALIGNMENT
The amount of economic integration — the flow of goods, capital, people, and ideas — as well as the extent to which political structures enable the world to deal with the global challenges.
X axis = ADAPTIVE CAPACITY
The capacity at different levels of society to cope with change and to adapt effectively.
LOCK STEP Scenario
A world of tighter top-down government control and more authoritarian leadership, with limited innovation and growing citizen pushback.
CLEVER TOGETHER Scenario
A world in which highly coordinated and successful strategies emerge for addressing both urgent and entrenched worldwide issues.
SMART SCRAMBLE Scenario
An economically depressed world in which individuals and communities develop localized, makeshift solutions to a growing set of problems.
HACK ATTACK Scenario
An economically unstable and shock-prone world in which governments weaken, criminals thrive, and dangerous innovations emerge.
These descriptions (see above) are not far from what we can see already happening globally. I have added my own observations during pandemic and continued analysis with DRIVERS for change and IMPACT for different sectors (see below).
2. Add analysing tools Drivers and Impact together with own observations.
Each scenario gives different kind of Opportunities and Threats. LOCK STEP Scenario has clear benefits in the beginning of the crisis but the risk is that authoritarian style of governance becomes new normal and leads to protectionism and mass surveillance, even threatening democracy.
CLEVER TOGETHER Scenario seems to give best opportunities since it allows global collaboration and biggest chance to provide welfare society for many.
SMART SCRAMBLE Scenario also provides many opportunities but the risk is that without bigger scale innovation remains only local and not society wide.
HACK ATTACK Scenario describes a dystopian future. The importance of highly undesirable (and unlikely) scenarios is to plan how to avoid the threats and turn them into opportunities. Not preparing for dystopian scenarios can become very risky, as we have witnessed during the pandemic.
3. In further analysis add new Values and Behaviour changes to previously identified Drivers and Impact. Here is an example for the CLEVER TOGETHER Scenario:
4. Continue analysis by adding Trends to identify Opportunities and Threats
Opportunities and Threats are great conversation starting points for innovation and strategy building.
Identifying specific Opportunities / Threats is always industry and brand specific guiding the future strategy build towards a unique outcome.
Risk analysis can be used to prioritise answers based on Likelihood to happen and Impact strength.
HOW TO USE SCENARIOS IN BUILDING STRATEGY FOR FUTURE
Future strategy becomes a lot clearer after the process of investigating and discussing several scenarios. As a result a vision for desired future will start to emerge.
When the desired future with unique set of Opportunities & Threats is clearer, backcasting can clarify what must be achieved in order to arrive at the end state.
Start to explore new solutions or improve existing ones by
- Asking How might we… questions from selected Opportunities / Threats
- Discovering Jobs to be done (JTBD) for new products & service ideas
How does the present state compare to a desired future? Explore core business strategy building separately from new businesses.
– Re-assess the value proposition
– Identify company or brand strengths / weaknesses
– Cost cutting vs growth efforts
– Collaborate and share risks
– Spot hidden value and innovate to monetize it
As a result, you will have:
- Opportunities & Threats for several possible futures
- Answers how to tackle them (How might we…)
- Ideas for new products and services (Jobs to be done)
- Strategy and action plans to prepare core business for the future
- New potential business areas
Make the desired future happen!
Apply the process to navigate complexity and build future strategy for New Normal.