Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Value of Scenarios

A manager is unhappy with progress of one of her projects and in a very loud voice at a staff meeting says to the employee who is responsible for the project, “You useless sod, you’ve let me down, and you need to get your act together... if you don’t have this sorted by Friday I will have your guts for garters.”

The employee naturally feels very embarrassed and belittled in front of his/her colleagues at the meeting.
What would be your reaction if you were the employee? What about if you were the manager’s manager?

This is a scenario, a values-focused scenario, to promote discussion, training and planning--scenarios are a great business planning and training technique.
Another different scenario might involve you as the owner of a rail company undergoing a re-sleepering program, finding out that a large batch of concrete sleepers is defective. How would you handle it?

Using Scenarios

Here the scenario is read out and people ponder it for a moment before the chair of the meeting asks some provocative questions to capitalise on the learning and discussion, and even get some conflicting views happening (in a controlled environment). The desired outcome is to reinforce the correct set of actions to take on the scenario, and also to highlight to people how differently we think--this hopefully translates into people not assuming the next person will think like them.

We can use scenarios in all manner of situations where enlightening people to the possible consequences of action is an imperative. They help us to prepare and plan for responses to situations, particularly emergencies.

Emergency scenarios have been used for decades in business and government to ensure any dire consequences are mitigated as far as possible.

The use of scenarios is from the wisdom schema. They help us envision a future we either want to see or don’t want to see, as a means of capitalising on opportunities or mitigating threats.
Personal Value

Scenarios also have a personal application. Think of the times when we’re bored and have a little window for thought--this might not be often. Think of the consequences for foreseeable and likely events that could happen in our lives. What would we do? Are we prepared for them, physically, mentally, emotionally?

Let’s take a moment sometime soon to envision (even for a moment) a scenario that bears thought and consideration. How will we capitalise on the opportunities or mitigate the threats on those things bearing down on us?

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

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