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Scenario planning is a long and well-established approach to help leaders create novel insights and challenge what they know of the world to influence future action. But as the world becomes increasingly unpredictable, leaders must question the traditional mode of analysing the contextual environment and adopt new capabilities to embrace change while they redefine and reframe their organisation for the future.
The Evolution of Scenario Planning explores the pervasive nature of change. It provides a contemporary approach to using scenarios as strategic conversation to embrace experiences – past and present – to create novel understanding and insights.
The book uses case studies and practical examples to guide facilitators in applying the scenario process in their organisation. Leaders, senior managers, consultants and academics will learn how to engage with scenarios as a central element of strategy and better understand their role in strategic leadership. They will also gain insight into the skills and capabilities revealed during the process of strategic conversation, where ambiguity and equivocality is a natural feature of such conversation.
The Evolution of Scenario Planning makes a compelling case for using scenarios to enable leaders to develop foresight and attunement to grasp the ongoing dynamic of their uncertain and ambiguous world.
George Burt is a highly accomplished academic with over 30 years of experience teaching, researching, and consulting on the role and impact of scenario planning. He has worked with a diverse range of organisations such as Shell Global Solutions, World Bank, Petronas, PayPal, Church of Scotland, and many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). From these diverse settings and experiences, George has developed novel and innovative ideas about the role of scenario planning. The book reflects these ideas and offers a clear explanation of scenarios as a strategic conversation to underpin foresight in the here-and-now, which redefines understanding of the organisation.
"This book is a good exemplar of what Donald Schön aptly called ‘reflection on practice’. Based on well-documented and carefully analysed scenario planning interventions in which the author played critical roles, the book assesses how the ‘strategic conversation’ of scenario planning frame introduced by Kees van der Heijden worked for those which the scenario planning sought to serve. In doing so, the book enriches the ‘strategic conversation’ part of the scenario planning literature".
Prof Rafael Ramirez, Director of the Oxford Scenarios Programme and Professor of Practice, University of Oxford (UK)
"If the future, as the poet Rilke says, is ‘time’s excuse to frighten us’, then foresight is the gift that lets us come to terms with this anxiety. Scenario planning is perhaps the most rigorous technique of producing foresight, and Burt takes it to task. Offering a history, a philosophical re-grounding, and a ‘how to’ guide, this book revisits and critically frames scenario planners’ prime assumptions, setting these against the inherent openness of the future. Drawing on a wide range of sources, and illustrating these through many first-hand examples, Burt not only shows the limits of plans and the folly of mistaking concreteness for control, he also nudges the debate towards a subtler and more reticent orientation towards the future. This book is a thought-provoking invitation for those studying scenarios and those developing them in organisational contexts to stay alive to the contingencies and mysteries of the future which may be gleaned when one opens up to the interstices between certainties and structures."
Prof Mike Zundel, Professor of Organization Studies, Strategy, IB and Entrepreneurship, University of Liverpool (UK)
"Prof George Burt's latest book, Evolution of Scenario Planning, affirms why he is one of the most important contemporary thinkers in the fields of scenario development and strategic foresight. His rich experience and expertise make him ideally suited for gathering all the fruits of recent developments of thought in scenario planning, which he does with keen analytical scrutiny. However, this book is much more than a 'fruit gathering' exercise. It also offers a playpen of stimulating 'ideas' that allow readers to gain an 'analytical grip' on the dynamics of foresight generation within organizations. In her fine meditation on the unknowability of the future, the poet Emily Dickinson famously wrote, 'The Future—never spoke—/ Nor will He—like the Dumb—/ Reveal by sign—a syllable/ Of His Profound To Come'. Prof Burt's book, by bringing together the past, present and future 'ideas' within scenario planning and exploring its relevance for strategic foresight, lays out some of this profoundness for inspection".
Dr Anup Karath Nair, Lecturer in Strategic Management and Innovation, Strategy, IB and Entrepreneurship, University of Liverpool (UK)
"In this accessible text, Prof Burt shares valuable wisdom accrued over 3 decades of engaged scholarship and consultancy in scenarios. Drawing on process philosophical and strategic conversation perspectives, Prof Burt paints a compelling picture of how scenarios can play a central role in effective strategic management in a dynamic, ever-changing world. For researchers and practitioners alike, this book offers actionable insights and relevant worked examples alongside essential knowledge about the history, current landscape and theoretical underpinnings of the field."
Prof Dave Mackay, Director, Rheiz Ltd (UK)
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