Thursday, August 1, 2013

"Scenarios can’t predict the future, so what’s the point?”

Although a scenario can’t predict the future, a scenario planning approach to what may happen can put the planner in a position in which he / she is prepared to face a number of possible futures. 

There is a significant difference between predicting the future and preparing for the future.  Predicting for the future is more than likely to be based on the past and what is happening now, then predicting what is most likely to happen based of these two factors.  It is almost a ‘putting all of your eggs in one basket approach’, with one outcome being considered, and all resourcing and strategic planning focused on that one outcome eventuating.

Preparing for the future suggests the planner being ready for a number of possible future outcomes. No one can be sure of what the future holds, but steps can be put in place to be ready to meet the effects of events that may take place.  Scenario planning gives the planner a degree of confidence that they have some control over what the future may have in store.


  1. What degree of confidence? What error limits? what are the costs and where are the benefits? Isn't SP just another business import into education to fix problems that are not there. Yo plan or not for futures which may or may not come. i can see how it works for the military so we don't get stuck in afghanistan, iraq, bosnia, cyprus, middle east, africa, korea, vietnam, russia, somme, middle east but not so useful for education yet. it would be one hell of a sell job for teachers to get on board. I think all sentient beings plan for the future knowingly or unknowingly - those that don't die out a s genes memes organisms and species. Control over the future is a mirage that we stagger towards through the sands of time - its always over the next dune its cool oasis shimmering in the heat haze but really its a trick of the light and the disturbed hot air over the desert floor.
    Predicting the future IS preparing for it - the thought the act becomes the action - it informs and presages your decisions. Surely all business, art sport or science takes the contingencies into account and rather than betting the house on red 13 spreads their investment, time resources and energy over a range of possible futures

    Benjamin - I like your analyses - it makes sense to me - i am on that wave length too. I think education is social capital, cultural capital and a meme as wella s being a heuristic device. I think it as replaced religion as a new social escalator, elevator or adjudicator. I too am worried about taking Rand, Military and Oil Scenarios from the 1950s and 60s and transposing, transmuting and transgressing it to the 2010s. I questions its value and I am doubtful about its rejoicing in fuzzy logic, emphasis on quest and journey, stress on process and lack of evidence based testability, falsifiability or even verisimilitude. I think its because after 16 years at tertiary study my BS director is finally honed and working in education we get the next big thing, fad to save the system and overhyped overthere catch cries on a daily basis and are now more than a little wary/weary of business prophets and their educational losses #SP4Ed

  2. Hi Timothy,

    I think you've captured the essence in pointing out the significant difference between predicting the future versus preparing for the future.

    I don't agree with Tony -- predicting is not the same as preparing. Preparation considers more alternatives ;-).

    As for the business import rhetoric -- we'll educators and educational institutions are free to reject the approach. As an educator, I've found the methodology very useful over the last 15 years -- so much so, we're sharing the gift of knowledge and giving it away for free (as in freedom of speech plus no cost ;-))

  3. Wayne
    those a good points well made - i will think about my preconceptions and reflect on my cynicism - might be too jaded to see the wood for the trees after parent teacher interviews and the start of the new term - very interesting discussions going on tho and i am enjoying it