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Scenario Planning for the Twenty-first-Century Military Strategist

Wild Blue Yonder / Maxwell AFB, AL --

 

Introduction

Scenario planning is a tool that can be adapted to bring together the Department of Defense (DOD), nongovernmental organizations (NGO), academia, and the private sector to foster collaboration. It emerged post–World War II as a group-based decision-making tool and process refined by RAND Corporation military strategist and systems theorist, Herman Kahn, allowing practitioners to plan for an uncertain future. However, due to the complexities of the process, scenario planning, particularly within the military, faced near-extinction until the 1970s. Royal Dutch Shell strategist Pierre Wack modified the military approach into a framework useful for private industry.1 To date, scenario planning remains a relevant practice for the private sector in evaluating best-practice decisions. This article outlines a methodology to adapt scenario planning into a streamlined process as a means to foster collaboration and crosstalk among various stakeholders. It provides context to explain scenario planning as part of the science of strategic thought and presents a “how-to” practitioner’s guide to return scenario planning to its military roots.

The military’s requirement to deter an adversary now encompasses both space and cyberspace in addition to traditional domains of land, air, and sea. Commanders’ leadership obligations and daily demands in view of constantly shifting geopolitical conditions and nuclear modernization requirements are daunting tasks. Additional resources may expand capacity but do little to fill the deficit and limitations presented by being time-poor.

So given the realities, of time constraints, in what ways does scenario planning add value for the military? Completing the scenario planning process in its entirety requires dedicating anywhere from two weeks to upward of several months toward exhaustive attention in creating and analyzing plausible future narratives. This is an unrealistic expectation for twenty-first-century leaders; however, this does not diminish the value of the process or provide an excuse to avoid deep strategic thought.

Scenario Planning Context

Scenario planning is an extension of the science of strategic thinking that concentrates on both forecasting and foresight as models of analysis. Forecasting uses mathematical models to calculate a future state.2 These approaches are often based on traditional cause-and-effect analysis that observe if condition x occurs then outcome y will occur as a direct result. Forecasting allows for a wider margin of error but also equally allows for an increasingly positive result; thereby, validating its systematic accuracy. This is why, for example, the weather is projected as a forecast. Practitioners, through modeling and analysis, study trends to project future forecasts of climate conditions. Forecasting is limited, however, in its reliability to address complex social or political probabilities.

Also, part of the science of strategic thought and by comparison, foresight allows for exploration by creating plausible outcomes. “Foresight is the ability to see what is emerging, to understand the dynamics of the larger context, and to recognize new initial conditions as they are forming.”3 It provides the opportunity to see and respond to change before a crisis arises. Foresight can be overlooked, since it is often appreciated and best understood in hindsight. This is often to the detriment of both self and others. The responsibility of foresight is often left to futurists and tasked to future studies programs, and in a large part, this will likely continue to hold true. Strategic thought and the ability to systematically forecast is a shared responsibility in an increasingly interconnected and interactive society where professional silos no longer exist. The following methodology describes how to complete an abbreviated scenario planning exercise. Conducted across a 10-hour period, the methodology provides flexibility to complete in a workday or across 1.5 days, depending on the needs of the participants. The adaptations of the methodology are conductive for twenty-first-century military strategists to implement as part of a guided process in strategic assessment of national security.

EOD, SFS, Joint Training
EOD and SFS perform joint Multifunction Airman Training
An Airman from the 386th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron and 386th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordinance disposal flight plan their raid on the opposing teams camp during the Multifunction Airman Training exercise at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait, March 19, 2020. The exercise consisted of a three day, in-depth scenario based around obstacles that these Airmen could face during their deployments against adversaries. They were able to run through each problem, work through the solution then collaborate with each other on ways to improve. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Alexandre Montes)
Photo By: Tech. Sgt. Alexandre Montes
VIRIN: 200319-F-BN304-262

(US Air Force photo by TSgt Alexandre Montes)

Figure 1. Scenario planning. Airmen from the 386th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron and 386th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron plan their raid on the opposing teams’ camp during the Multifunction Airman Training exercise at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait, 19 March 2020. The exercise consisted of a three-day, in-depth scenario based around obstacles that these Airmen could face during their deployments against adversaries. They were able to run through each problem, work through the solution, then collaborate with each other on ways to improve.

Military practitioners are familiar with participating in tabletop exercises that present a series of preconstructed variables and challenges to work through and solve. This methodology of scenario planning allows participants to learn how to think versus what to think. The process allows a small group to ponder, explore, and discover plausible outcomes for the future. Participants are provided the opportunity to imagine possibilities and discuss uncertainties through a series of facilitated and structured steps. Facilitators of the exercise provide guidance through the different steps of the process, while the participants drive the direction of the exercise.

This framework allows scenario planning to meet the learning styles and preferences of adult learners who prefer to be spoken to and not spoken at in terms of receiving direction. The process incorporates auditory, visual, and kinesthetic styles of engagement.4 In addition, individual thought, group sharing, corporate brainstorming, and small team collaboration are components of the process. Adult learners are motivated to want to know the outcome, or task, that is expected at the start of the scenario planning exercise. Since the scenarios and plausible futures emerge at the end of the exercise, this can create (and a scenario planning team should account and plan for such) tension and frustration with the group. Out of respect for the adult learner and military practitioner, it is important to reconcile these issues from the onset of the exercise.

The focus of the article now turns to the methodology and framework for conducting the scenario planning exercise. In addition, specific tips and pointers for troubleshooting and mitigating potential pitfalls are provided. The goal is for the strategic process to be transferable and streamlined for twenty-first-century military strategist.

The Scenario Planning Process

One of the biggest challenges to any new process is knowing where to begin. Bill Ralston and Ian Wilson do a tremendous job presenting the process of scenario planning in their capstone text.5 Their methodology is targeted toward organizational leaders; the focus of this modified framework is targeted toward the defense community. The goal of conducting this scenario planning exercise is not to create perfectly crafted futures. The goal is to hone the craft of strategic thinking and to discern and detect key trends gained from the collaborative process.

First, select the scenario planning leadership team. The process can be completed with four primary team members recruited for the roles of: facilitator, recorder, co-leader 1, and co-leader 2. The task of the facilitator is the most active role in the process. The facilitator must be capable of understanding the intent of the scenario planning exercise, while equipping team members to fulfill their role and managing each stage of the exercise (including providing instructions, time management, and settling any disruptions in the process). The facilitator is the voice of the scenario planning process in gaining support of leadership, garnering participation, and accountability to and for the success or (hopefully averted) failure of the process. The scenario planning exercise is only as successful as the facilitator is in his or her role.

The ideal recorder is a team member who has mastered the art of listening. The recorder must capture the data associated with the process they are hearing, while, at the same time, being able to identify key trends and processes central to the process as it unfolds in real time. The recorder is not a silent role but one who speaks up when and if communication channels are unclear. It is central that both the facilitator and the recorder are aligned with the process and their individual working styles complement each other. It is important to note the facilitator and recorder are the only two members that are active in every step of the scenario planning exercise.

The roles of co-leader 1 and co-leader 2 are very similar. There is flexibility between the co-leaders. The co-leaders work with the facilitator in various steps within the scenario planning process but do not necessarily co-lead simultaneously. The best co-leaders are individuals who are vocal, capable to direct and steer their portion of the exercise, and knowledgeable on the topic being explored. The co-leaders do not generate the content of the exercise. The co-leaders are, however, subject matter experts within the field being discussed and should be able to prompt discussion on authenticity, reliability, or credibility of the participants’ data and claims.

It is recommended the facilitator meet with each team member and discuss the various stages of the process and beta test a trial run prior to leading the scenario planning exercise with a group of invited participants. This allows for troubleshooting and identifying both individual and group strengths and weaknesses.

This particular approach requires a one-hour, three-hour, and six-hour block of time across two consecutive days. This could be adjusted into one extended day, but there is benefit in allowing the exercise time to “breathe.” Twelve to fifteen participants should be involved in the exercise. It is also critical that participants are from a diverse group of specializations. Pending interests and goals of conducting the exercise, this variance take on the form of diversity within a command (i.e., differing Air Force Specialty Codes), diversity within the Air Force (i.e., Global Strike and Space Command), diversity within the DOD (i.e., Air Force, Navy), or extend as far as diversity within the executive branch (i.e., USSTRATCOM, Department of Energy). In addition to professional diversity, diversity of thought should be represented as well. Strategic thinking is enhanced outside of groupthink. The conversation and scenarios that emerge are enhanced by including industry, NGOs, and/or academia in the exercise.

Methodology and Outcomes

Organizers should plan for and include additional time for briefings targeted toward the focus of the scenario planning interest prior to beginning the exercise. This allows the group to collectively form a basis of knowledge from which to apply their specific expertise. In the case of an educational platform (such as a workshop or course), a series of lectures may fill the agenda for the first day and a half, allowing the participants to slowly engage in the process. A briefing from a subject matter expert to share insights pertinent to the exercise is sufficient in circumstances where the exercise is used as part of a meeting or when faced with additional time or resource constraints. For this discussion, the exercise framework will be broken down across two days to demonstrate the rationale and progression of each step’s intended outcome.

 

Part 1: What If?

The group commits 1.5 hours to the first step in the scenario planning process. The facilitator explains the history, importance, and structure of scenario planning. The central point of the first step to scenario planning is addressing: What if? When contemplating the future, there are three classes of knowledge: 1) things we know we know, 2) things we know we do not know, and 3) things we do not know we do not know. “Focusing attention to number two and number three is where scenario planning excels, since it is essentially a study of our collective ignorance.”6:

The phonograph . . . is not of any commercial value (Thomas Edison, inventor of the phonograph, c. 1880);

Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible (Lord Kelvin, British mathematician, physicist, and president of the British Royal Society, c. 1895);

No matter what happens, the U.S. Navy is not going to be caught napping (Frank Knox, Secretary of the Navy, 4 December 1941, 3 days before Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor);

I think there is a world market for about five computers (Thomas J. Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943); and,

We don’t like their sound. Groups of guitars are on the way out (Decca Recording Co. Executive, turning down the Beatles in 1962).7

 

All these claims were made by subject matter experts in their fields demonstrating that experts can miss the mark in making strategic decisions.

Foresight is hindsight’s opportunity to rewrite the future. Accomplishing this requires asking questions. Western culture, in particular, is averse to asking questions.8 Viewed as a weakness or vulnerability, the tendency is to instead provide answers and solutions. Albert Einstein once said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.”9 Questions are the seed from which innovation grows. There is value in not only asking a question but also in forming the right question.

Step one in scenario planning is centered on addressing this paradigm. The task of step one is defining the decision focus of the scenario planning exercise. This is achieved through creating a focal question. The focal question should be narrow. Too general of a focal question creates scenarios that are very open-ended. Specific focal questions yield scenarios that are concentrated. The focal question should define a span of time. Since the focus of this methodology is not to create futurists but rather strategic thinkers, a five-year time span is reasonable and is a horizon that allows for critical thought within the time constraints of the exercise.

A challenge in forming the focal question is overcoming black-and-white, wrong-and-right, cause-and-effect thinking.10 At the same time, the participants’ tendencies at this stage are often to reflect upon the past in terms of personal experience and historical assessment. At this stage, the facilitator must be mindful to drive the conversation in a future direction. Components of a focal question include creativity, challenging the status quo, generating energy and forward movement, channeling attention, and focusing inquiry.11 A focal question does not need to be complex; in fact, some of the best questions often are simple.

Anticipate and account for “dead air” as participants engage in brainstorming at this stage. It is typical at this point in the exercise for the group not to be full engaged or invested in the scenario planning exercise as there is predictable hesitancy in embracing the unknown. The tendency will be for the scenario planning team to “save” the exercise or participants from possibly struggling with this step. Keep in mind, this is part of the strategic thought process. It is okay to be uncomfortable with the unfamiliar. It is the role of the facilitator to ensure the space is a safe zone to speak up and speak out.

There are techniques to help guide the formation of the focal question and allow participants to have ownership of the process. The facilitator and co-leader work together to help the group identify themes of interest. During this time, the recorder is capturing the inputs and a general consensus begins to emerge in identifying themes of interest.

From this point, the facilitator and co-leader guide the discussion in a Socratic method of learning. The conversation is guided to phrase and articulate trends by asking participants questions about the questions. It is often helpful to capture various versions of the question, or messages stemming from the dialogue on a whiteboard or other visual means. The goal is to reach a consensus with the participants. If the time is expiring, it is acceptable to complete the step with no consensus. Dismiss the exercise for a break. The scenario planning team can evaluate, discuss, and assist in ordering the thoughts. By allowing the exercise to breathe, participants return refreshed rather than rushing through and creating a mediocre question due to time restraints. The entire exercise is centered around the decision focus. The participants’ inputs create and shape the exercise whether it is formulated by the ideas that are shared or constructed in question form by the scenario planning team.

Part 2: So What?

It is helpful when beginning the next phase of the exercise to reiterate and reinforce the decision focus. In beginning part two, there is value in projecting or sharing this document as a visual to the participants. It is a road map that supports visual learner’s need for actualizing the framework. This template is populated from data collected by the recorder and provided to the group at the end of the exercise. Visualizing this document allows the participants to see where they are in the process and where the process is headed.

This particular series of steps is the most abstract and challenging for the participants to grasp of all the sequences in the exercise. The difficulty lies not in completing the processes but in seeing the value of the work. The scenario planning team should be encouraged that the process of strategic thought is occurring if there is frustration at this crossroads. Steer away from consoling participants and telling the group how they should feel at this point, as this underscores the developmental process of becoming a strategic thinking.

In addition, making the transition from tactical thinking to strategic thinking is a growth experience. The goal is not to make the participants blind to the process as visual markers, detailed instructions, and clear guidance are necessary. Strategic thinking is, however, a process and scenario planning an experience that must be felt. For the scenario planning team, it is okay at this stage if the participants struggle and are frustrated at times. The general consensus through this sequence is typically “so what?” as the interpretation of the inputs will be unclear at this point.

The second part of the exercise is broken into three one-hour blocks. There are multiple steps within a block that must be completed within specific time perimeters to keep the exercise on track. There are three learning outcomes the participants will achieve: identifying key decision factors, identifying forces and drivers, and identifying axes of uncertainty.12 These processes are based from Bill Ralston and Ian Wilson’s framework, but this version of scenario planning is modified slightly to account for time constraints facing military practitioners.

Identifying the key decision factors (KDF) is part of the research phase of exploration and perception. This step is led by the facilitator and recorder. KDFs are the events or outcomes of the future in which curiosity or interest would improve the quality and relevance of decisions.13 These are external conditions that have direct and/or indirect impact to the focal question. Identifying the KDFs is achieved through conducting a social, technological, environmental, economic, political (STEEP) analysis, which evaluates the conditions that surround the decision focus. The goal is to look below the surface of what is visible (i.e., current trends) and begin to identify enduring trends and underlying patterns.14 Participants first individually brainstorm their ideas by writing one- (or two-) word responses on sticky notes to achieve this step. A suggestion is to ask participants to define their top three responses for each category. This means each participant will have 15 sticky notes. Multiplied across a group of 15 participants, this equates to 225 responses that later become the exercise’s data set.

At this point, there are different strategies and methods to streamline the process. There are inclinations to circumvent or shortcut the sharing of the data. Resist the urge. Have a large whiteboard or wall space prepared with STEEP marked across the top. Allow each participant to stand before the group, share their responses, and post their notes under the appropriate category (note: avoid clustering similarities at this point). This accomplishes many objectives simultaneously. First, it provides each participant an equal opportunity to speak. This is particularly important for more introverted individuals, as it draws them into the exercise. At the same time, participants gain confidence in discovering there are no right or wrong answers; there are only ideas. Keep the time in mind through this step, as there is not time for exhaustive discussion of each sticky note. Participants can, however, clarify their thought if the messaging is not clear to the group. The conclusion of this step ensures the group has collectively generated the data utilized in the next step. The sticky notes are a visual representation of the impressive analysis and daunting undertaking involved with strategic thought.

At this point, the group uses the data collected to identify forces and drivers. This process is led by the facilitator and selected co-leader. The task is to measure levels of uncertainty on the matrix of uncertainty (table 3). Along the x axis of the matrix is the degree of uncertainty rated along a range of high, medium, and low. Here uncertainty is described as impact and importance asking, “What level of uncertainty—high, medium, low—do we feel in projecting the future course of each force?”15 Along the y axis is the level of impact and importance, also ranging from high, medium, and low and asking, “How great an impact will each force have in shaping the future of the key decision factors? And so how important will it be in determining the differences among the scenarios that we develop?”16

This is the step that challenges the group the most to complete more than any of the other steps in the scenario planning exercise. The double-negative translation of “uncertainty” is confusing to some. Strong visual markers and additional descriptors are needed to compensate for this challenge.

Table 1. Table 1. Impact/Uncertainty Matrix

Impact/Uncertainty Matrix
Impact/Uncertainty Matrix
Degree of uncertainty over level of impact/importance
Photo By: Dr. Ernest Rockwell
VIRIN: 200422-F-YT915-0005

 

Table 2. Example of Impact/Uncertainty Matrix17

Example of Impact/Uncertainty Matrix
Example of Impact/Uncertainty Matrix
Example of Impact/Uncertainty Matrix
Photo By: Dr. Ernest Rockwell
VIRIN: 200422-F-YT915-0006

 

 

There are various techniques to narrow the STEEP analysis into the rankings on the matrix of uncertainty. The task is to allow the participants to move around the board and record their top five responses from each category. After the allotted time, participants share their inputs in round-robin style. When another participant selects the same, or similar, response, then the facilitator and co-leader collect that data (and in some cases, it will be a cluster of data, as many individuals will reply with like responses in the STEEP analysis). The participants then reach a consensus on where this is rated on the matrix. Once labeled, the sticky note is not set in stone; rather, it can later be moved as the analysis continues. The round-robin should first group the similar thoughts among the participants. It is to be expected that some responses will be outliers and not incorporated as part of the exercise. The goal is for 15–30 percent of the total KDFs to find a place on the high degree of uncertainty and high level of impact quadrant. This data set is the information from which the scenarios begin to emerge. The facilitator and co-leader assess the remaining sticky notes that have not been placed on the matrix at the end of the round-robin for final consensus before moving to the next step.

The final process in the “so what” phase is labeling the axes of uncertainty. This is when the scenario planning exercise begins to shift. This step is potentially the shortest but can also be the most difficult.18 The transition from brainstorming to the beginnings of forming the scenarios emerge in this step. Alternative logics begin to form by labeling the axes. The participants now select the data from the high degree of uncertainty and high level of impact quadrant.

The task shifts to encompassing most, if not all, of the high impact/high uncertainty forces.19 The boundaries of uncertainty should be pushed for the resulting scenarios to be distinctly different. When identifying and labeling the matrix, be mindful that if the selections are similar then the resulting scenarios will be similar. In facilitating this step, it is helpful to capture inputs on a whiteboard. Also, by providing a sample (from an unrelated scenario so as not to skew the inputs) helps participants visualize the task of labeling their axes.

Table 3. Identifying axes of uncertainty20

Identifying axes of uncertainty
Identifying axes of uncertainty
Identifying axes of uncertainty
Photo By: Dr. Ernest Rockwell
VIRIN: 200422-F-YT915-0007

 

The exploration phase typically yields the sentiment “so what” from the participants. Some individuals are frustrated at this point, while others remain curious and engaged. The emerging scenarios and focus of the exercise are still unclear at this stage. Allow the participants space to decompress from the process and any associated emotions. It is also important to note, as data and findings are generated from each step, the recorder is documenting these inputs on the executive summary template.

Part 3: What Now?

The final part of the exercise is all about the participants. Whereas the scenario planning has guided and prodded the exercise team the previous two days, the participants produce all the content and material on the final part. In resuming the exercise, it is often worthwhile to validate any emotion, frustration, sense of accomplishment, and so forth as being intended and deliberate in conducting the strategic thought exercise. This helps the group decompress and be at ease when transitioning into the heart of the exercise: building the scenario.

There are three main tasks to build the scenario: select logics (hypotheses), create and share narratives, and select recommendations. The learning outcome of selecting the logics is to comprehend and summarize the exercise findings to a main hypothesis. The learning outcome of creating and sharing narratives is to apply discoveries through plausible, not probable, scenarios. The learning outcome of selecting recommendations is an examination of scenario impact within the field of interest.

Participants will work silently to create a logic, or hypotheses, for each quadrant. A logic is a hypothesis about the dynamics of the external environment in the future in terms of how the world will work.21 Each logic has a central theme that is descriptive in how the forces interrelate. The goal of this step is to identify two logics for each axis that are plausible, yet at the extreme. At this point, it is helpful to provide a visual of the work the group has generated to date. This includes the focal question and axis of uncertainty. An additional example (from an alternative scenario so as not to skew the results) is helpful to visualize the logic.

Participants create a name/title with a brief description (four to six words typically) that captures that future. There is time for group share following individual brainstorming. During this time, each participant shares their four logics. There is flexibility here. One person can share all four of their logics, or the group can round-robin each quadrant, pausing to label and select the logic. The scenario planning team works to capture and facilitate the flow; however, the inputs are generated from the participants. The intent of sharing is for the group to discuss and figure out the logic, reaching a consensus before moving onto the next phase.

Table 4. Creating logics

Creating logics
Creating logics
Creating logics
Photo By: Dr. Ernest Rockwell
VIRIN: 200422-F-YT915-0008

 

At this point, the scenario planning team prepares the participants for writing the scenarios. Participants are assigned to one of the four quadrants through random draw. This quadrant is the assignment in which the small group is tasked with creating the assigned scenario. It is helpful at this stage for each team member to share and provide inputs into the factors of what creates the emerging narrative.

The scenarios must be plausible. The idea is not to predict the future, rather to create narratives that contain utility in alignment with the decision focus. At the same time scenarios aim to challenge conventional wisdom. The challenge is for the team to “write the history of the future.”22 Storytelling ability is needed; however, strategy and insights also emerge, so the scenarios contain utility that transfer to planning documents.

Each scenario team creates a scenario that includes a title, brief description, and narrative. Creativity is imperative at this stage of the process, achieved by making the scenarios “come alive.”23 Along these lines, scenarios should be compelling and detailed so the storyline is easy to follow. In addition, scenarios may push the envelope to imagine but should still be believable. Each team should keep the focal question in mind as scenarios are created. The teams may invent a catchy name for their scenario and even invent the scenario as though they are the primary decision makers. There are no limits on creativity at this stage. The scenarios should contain actors (characters), order (storyline with a beginning, middle, and end), contestation (climax with conflict), and infrastructure (framework).

Each team presents their scenario to the group following the extended time of content creation. During this time, questions and interaction from the group for the individual scenarios ensue. This is the portion of time devoted to examination and discussion of each scenario. The group reaches a consensus and selects one scenario following the presentations. The selected scenario is the basis from which recommendations are selected.

After this selection, the teams dissolve, and the group is brought together. The opportunity to analyze the scenario is now the focus. It is necessary to rely on the subject matter expertise of one or more of the group members to lead this discussion. For example, applying the scenario through the matrix of diplomacy, information, military, and economics (DIME) is a valuable learning tool. This guides the conversation and connects the plausible scenario to a metrics of discussion. In addition, analysis of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) of the scenario allows the participants to draw upon their knowledge and expertise in creating recommendations.

Also, at this point the participants rely on application of present or historical context to create these recommendations. As the discussion ensues, it is necessary to maintain foresight in the analysis rather than reliance of historical undertones and past lessons learned. The idea is not to rush through this phase. Participants may anticipate they have completed the exercise once the scenarios are developed. At this stage, however, is the valuable practice of applying strategic thought to this plausible future.

In reflecting upon the exercise, everyone involved at this point is encouraged and motivated by the work produced. It is a transformational, educational, and motivational process. Allow the participants time to celebrate in their achievement and also to vent any dislikes of the process. This feedback allows the scenario planning team to incorporate improvements in delivery and instruction for future exercises.

Debrief and Sigh of Relief

Conducting a scenario planning exercise is not for the faint of heart. There is a tremendous amount of preparation, study, and training time prior to the 10 hours of implementation. Even when prepared, the unknown of personalities, level of participants’ receptiveness, and the unforeseeable direction the actual exercise takes can be daunting. The scenario planning team is equally invested in the strategic thought process as the participants. The flexibility to adjust, adapt, and respond is the spirit of the process and must be the attitude of the scenario planning team.

The scenario planning team must make recommendations from key findings, trends, analysis of the exercises conducted. This allows for senior military leadership to access thoughts, ideas, and patterns that can be further explored in an internal or classified setting. Collaboration is enhanced through scenario planning when conducted as a strategic thinking exercise, providing both utility and opportunity for developing strategic thinkers and enhancing strategic solutions for the US national security mission.

Dr. Brooke Mitchell

Dr. Mitchell currently serves as a Congressional Nuclear Security Fellow and as a Non-Resident Fellow at the Louisiana Tech Research Institute. For questions or to contact the author: Brooke@LTRI.org.

Notes

 

1 Steven M. Puma, Scenario Planning (Presidio School of Management, 2011), 1.

2 T. Irene Sanders, Strategic Thinking and the New Science (New York: The Free Press, 1998), 107–112.

3 Ibid.

4 Adult Learning, Principles of Adult Learning and Instructional Design Systems, 1–4.

5 Bill Ralston and Ian Wilson, The Scenario Planning Handbook (Mason, OH: Thomson Higher Education, 2006).

6 Paul J.H. Schoemaker, “Scenario Planning: A Tool for Strategic Thinking,” MIT Sloan Management Review (Winter 1995): https://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/scenario-planning-a-tool-for-strategic-thinking/.

7 Christopher Cerf and Victor Navasky, The Experts Speak (New York: Pantheon Books, 1984).

8 Eric E. Vogt, Juanita Brown, and David Isaacs, The Art of Powerful Questions: Catalyzing Insight, Innovation, and Action (Mill Valley, CA: Whole Systems Associates, 2003), 2.

9 Albert Einstein

10 Vogt et al., Art of Powerful Questions, 2.

11 Ibid.

12 Ralston and Wilson, Scenario Planning Handbook, 103–09.

13 Ibid., 82.

14 Ibid., 81–85.

15 Ibid., 104.

16 Ibid.

17 Jonathan Maack, Scenario Analysis: A Tool for Task Managers (Washington, DC: World Bank, 2001), 71.

18 Ralston and Wilson, Scenario Planning Handbook, 111.

19 Ibid, 112.

20 Ibid.

21 Ibid., 115.

22 Ibid., 127.

23 Monitor Company Group, “Introduction to Scenario Planning” (presentation, February 2008), 20, http://www.mwcog.org/file.aspx?A=53TrgI8fePu9yGIgTG%2BZMVzV8EwawJVtMZ7KAz5ZiBc%3D.

 

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