Saturday, August 10, 2013

Learning Reflection 2

Recent work on EDEM630 has been based around scenario planning, a concepts that I hadn’t previously been aware of or known about.   

I see the difference between the strategic planning and scenario planning as the difference between predicting the future (strategic planning) and preparing for the future (scenario planning).  Predicting the future looks to focus resourcing and thinking more specifically towards likely outcomes based on recent history, current trends, and expected futures.  Preparing for the future looks more towards uncertainties that may happen, with strategies in place to address all uncertainties, should they come to light.

Having been in senior management in schools for some time, I have been involved in countless strategic planning sessions; looking to set the direction of the school to best suit the needs of students.  I now feel that the scenario planning approach is a more effective means for long term forecasts for strategic decisions.  It goes beyond the ‘all eggs in one basket’ approach that, I believe, is the case with strategic planning.

In creating scenarios it is important to be creative in both the scenarios, and the procedures and systems to meet the identified outcomes (Sargent, 2011).  Lack of imagination can lead to too much similarity, meaning a strategic planning predicting approach may as well have been used.  From my own perspective, I will be looking towards the learning the processes that are used to identify possible futures in the scenario planning process.  I often go into situations with predetermined ideas that I find hard to waver from.  I need to be able to put my own limited thoughts. ideas and opinions aside to look towards a broader range of scenarios.

I found the newspaper article activity to be the most enjoyable and valuable of all that I did for the SP4Ed programme.  This really encouraged me to reflect on a possible future scenario for learners, as well as the events and uncertainties that led up to the possible future I identified.  In doing so I examined my own beliefs, as well as the skills and knowledge that I believe will be needed to have a future impact and role in education.

I found the Horizon Report on trends to be absolutely fascinating, enlightening and affirming.  The two trends that I focused on for a blog post; social media and cloud computing; are areas that I have been following for sometime, and have tried to embed in the schools that I have worked in.  The Horizon Report will provide me with evidence that I can use to, hopefully, convince others that both are areas worthy of implementing.  

A key question that I have related to scenario planning is based around having too many areas of focus for the future.  Preparing for a number of uncertainties could potentially spread resourcing thinly, particularly if scenarios prepared for are too outlandish and simply unlikely to happen.  Perhaps there are benefits in predicting and resourcing towards the more likely future, based on careful analysis of recent trends.

I found the scenario matrix activity extremely challenging, and relied on those who did the task before me for support by looking at their matrixes.  Having finally completed my own, a question I have is ‘what next?’.  Do I take the preferred outcome and focus on that; but still acknowledge the lesser desired outcomes, or do I focus primarily on the least desired outcome, knowing that if it does eventuate my organisation is at least prepared for it?

A key part in implementation of scenario planning will be convincing others of it’s worth. Miesing and van Ness (2007) discuss the need to focus on the right issue, otherwise considerable time, effort and resources could be spent on a focus that has only minimal impact on the overall direction of the school.  I will need to identify a significant issue, then bring other key stakeholders in to work through the scenario planning process to convince them of it’s worth.

Ways and Burbank (2005) outline a systematic approach for scenario planning.  However, knowing what to do and actually doing it are two quite different things. I need to now take the knowledge that I have acquired and implement it, something that I will do through the process of participating in EDEM630.

Miesing, P., & van Ness, R. K. (2007). Exercise: Scenario Planning. Organization Management Journal (Palgrave Macmillan Ltd.), 4(2), 148-167.

Sargent, K. (2011). scenario planning. Contract, 52(5), 60.

Ways, S. B., & Burbank, C. (2005). Scenario Planning. Public Roads, 69(2), 1.


  1. Just a quick reflection on used of terminology.

    Scenario planning is a strategic planning tool. Strategic planning can be divided into two broad categories 1) Forecast-based methods (Conventional planning) 2) Foresight-based methods (eg Scenario planning). Just to clarify that scenario planning is a strategic planning methodology.

  2. Thanks Wayne

    Would I be better stating scenario planning and traditional strategic planning?



  3. Hi again Wayne

    I just read your comment again (a little more carefully). I now see what you mean. Thanks for the feedback.



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