Scenarios 2.0 -- Social Technologies Recrafts the Art of Scenario Planning While Exploring the Future of Work

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Social Technologies recently unveiled its new scenario planning technique at a meeting at the Houston Technology Center in Houston, Texas. Led by futurists Andy Hines and Terry Grim, the event showcased Social Technologies' new approach to scenario planning, using the future of work as a sample topic to demonstrate the process.

Social Technologies recently unveiled its new scenario planning technique at a meeting at the Houston Technology Center in Houston, Texas. Led by futurists Andy Hines and Terry Grim, the event showcased Social Technologies' new approach to scenario planning, using the future of work as a sample topic to demonstrate the process.

"In designing our new process, we took a hard look at the full range of scenario techniques and evaluated where they were strong and where they came up short. This helped us create a conceptual framework that we think can really help make the most of this essential foresight tool. We think our revised approach to scenarios provides a richer, more productive process that will result in actionable insights," said Hines.

The approach

Social Technologies' scenario technique consists of the following steps:

1.    Framing the domain of interest. This step focuses on clearly defining the scope and focus of the project. This prevents misunderstandings and wasted work, and ensures that the scenarios will truly address the organization's burning questions.

2.    Researching: Factors, trends, values and catalysts. Using our Futures Interactive software, we establish relationships among the key factors, trend, and values, and combine them into the "catalysts" of change that form the building blocks of the scenarios.

3.    Setting options for the catalysts and certainty/ uncertainty ranking. In this step, we use archetypes to help us set options or potential outcomes for the catalysts in a way that ensures a wide range of possibilities.

4.    Identifying the official future and interviewing. It is critical to identify the "official" future that most people in the organization and/ or industry believe is going to happen. This future is often assumed and implicit, but we believe it is important to get it out into the open, discuss it, and then move on to what might be different.

5.    Crafting alternative futures. The technique for crafting alternatives to the official future varies. We consider what the research tells us instead of locking into any standardized approach up front. The techniques range from a sensitivity approach to explore relative certainties, to mapping uncertainty, to looking for "gamechangers" that might derail the official future altogether.

6.    Broadening and deepening. Once we have created the scenarios, this step ensures that we haven't missed anything and that we've thought broadly about how the all plot elements connect. We also probe beneath the surface and consider the longer-term staying power of the scenario plots we've created.

7.    Activating with implications. This step ties the scenarios back to the organization. Our process leads teams through the key questions that have to be asked to apply the scenarios to critical areas such as strategy development, new business and product development, and consumer understanding.

8.    Communicating. We believe communication is fundamental to the success of a scenario project, so this step in the process is all about getting the word out and bringing the scenarios to life, whether through presentations, narratives, multi-media and online channels, or other means.

9.    Monitoring. Our vision is that scenario planning is an ongoing process that retains its value by monitoring the future as it unfolds and comparing it to the futures that have been mapped out in the scenarios. Are we heading toward or away from a particular scenario? Does that suggest an adjustment in strategy? This monitoring is made simple with our Futures Interactive online platform, meaning that the scenarios remain informative and relevant going forward.

"Scenario planning's ultimate goal is to inspire an organization to prepare for the future by taking action in the present, whether that means adjusting existing strategies or creating new ones. Most people easily grasp the idea of scenarios, but implementing them effectively can be challenging, despite how simple they seem. We hope our process helps organizations approach scenarios in a new and productive way," concluded Hines.

Participation in futures events

Social Technologies' Futures Consortium assembles foresight, strategy, and innovation professionals twice yearly to collaborate and learn about important consumer, technology, and business topics. The Scenarios 2.0 event included professionals from the automotive, food and beverage, energy, aerospace, entertainment, and a range of other industries.

Attendees left the event with a new perspective on scenario best practices, insights into the future of work, and a network of contacts eager to understand where consumers, technology, and business are headed in the coming decades.

About Social Technologies
Social Technologies is a global research and consulting firm specializing in the integration of foresight, strategy, and innovation. With offices in Washington, DC, London, and Shanghai, Social Technologies serves the world's leading companies, government agencies, and nonprofits. A holistic, long-term perspective combined with actionable business solutions helps clients mitigate risk, make the most of opportunities, and enrich decision-making. Visit http://www.socialtechnologies.com. Social Technologies is a division of UTEK Corporation.

About UTEK Corporation
UTEK® (NYSE Alternext US & LSE-AIM: UTK) is a leading innovation services company. UTEK's services enable clients to become stronger innovators, rapidly source externally developed technologies, create value from their intellectual property and gain foresight into marketplace and technology developments that affect their business. UTEK is a business development company. For more information about UTEK, please visit http://www.utekcorp.com.

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Andy Hines

Josh Calder

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