Scenario Models: Creating and Using Scenarios for the Educational Institutions and Libraries
|Presentation to the Change Management Class
The image that I chose for this presentation is the one of Janus, Roman god of doors. I came across
the term “Janus effect” in the article “Scenario Planning for Libraries” by Stuart Hannabuss, a lecturer
in Management from Robert Gordon University in Scotland. Janus is usually represented as looking in
two directions simultaneously – to the left and right, known past and present and unknown future.
The Janus effect is important to scenario development as those who are involved in this process, like
Janus, have to learn to look at the past, present and future at the same time.
We covered scenarios during our October 9th session with Dr. Flowers, which I think was very interesting,
where she talked about scenarios as stories and also about Shell’s experience with scenarios. There
were also several articles and chapters in the required reading that talked about usefulness of scenarios
for organizations. This topic seemed very interesting and the fact that public enterprises rarely do scenario
work (as pointed out in the The Dance of Change) sparked my interest in the process of creating
scenarios in general and how they might be implemented in the library or educational institution
environment in particular.
I would like to present three scenario models which can be used depending on your goals for the scenario
work. In general, scenario writing is done in groups from several people to 50 and more group members
also depending on the scope of the project but you can also write them on your own. It is just that the
larger issue you attempt to envision through scenarios the more people you would like to provide their input
in order to paint the fuller picture. I am not going to describe these models in great detail but would
like to point out their distinctive features that I liked the most. I list all sources used for this
presentation on my last slide where you can find more details, if needed.
|On this slide I just wanted to briefly remind you of what scenarios are. You can find
many definitions of scenarios in the literature but I picked up just several points from
the Hannabuss’s article to illustrate different aspects of scenarios.
1.“Scenarios are plausible stories about alternative futures”
2.“Scenarios are attempts to learn from the future
before it happens, and prepare for action as it
3.“Scenarios can deal with the global and strategic
issues or focus on specific processes and products”
4.“Scenario development and planning is also intended to stimulate alternative scenarios”
|(based on Gerard Egan, Change Agent Skills B: Managing Innovation and Change)
Mental models – in broad sense are our views of the world, our models of this world.
In application to, say, an organization, its organizational culture is also based on
the mental models which have been built over time.
Example for environmental factors: emerging technologies, different economic,
social, educational, legal and political trends that affect your current state.
Stage 2 may be considered a visioning stage. Now, it became obvious to the Shell’s
planning group that this is possibly the most difficult part the scenario process as
they uncovered that people had difficulty to identify both their current mental
models AND the preferred future.
The scenario group at Shell developed seven questions to be asked during
interviews in order to help people better see the existing mental models and
the preferred future. These questions are:
1. What two questions would you most want to ask an oracle?
2. What is a good scenario?
3. What is a bad scenario?
4. If you could go back ten years (or however far you are looking ahead) what
would have been a useful scenario then?
5. What are the most important decisions you face right now?
6. What constrains do you feel from the company’s culture in making these decisions?
7. What do you want on your epitaph?
|(based on Gordon Robbins, “Scenario Planning: A Strategic Alternative”)
1. Identify the Focal Issue
- issues can be broad or narrow
- group should agree on the focus of the scenario project
2. Key Factors in the Environment
- analysis of the environment and identification of trends
affecting the focal issue
3. List the Driving Forces
- identify the forces that are likely to have an impact on the focal
issue and drive change in the future
4. Rank the Factors and Trends
- group ranks the factors from from the most important forces to
the most uncertain forces
5. Select the Plot Lines
- create a matrix of possible plot lines based on the ranking from
- the stories created from these four options will help the group
move from the “best-worst” scenario thinking to considering
additional alternatives in the changing environment
6. Write the Stories
7.Develop the Implications
8. Selecting the Leading Indicators
The group sets up the signposts to watch for to determine if the environment is moving
in the direction of one scenario or another. These signposts will help managers to chose
right strategies or plans to deal with the changed environment that are best for their
What I liked about this model in particular is the graphical aid in the form of a grid that
helps the group to see more alternatives for the future and also preset up signposts
to serve as the indicators of changing environment or trends.
|(model developed by Generon Consulting – formerly the Center for Generative Leadership)
|This model is interesting for addressing societal and global scenarios. The founders of
this group were part of the Shell planning team and this model was also used in a
number of large scenario projects in South Africa, Canada, Colombia, India and most
recently Guatemala and other countries.
- if we are not doing scenarios ourselves, it is likely that we’ll follow somebody else’s scenarios.
- Now, when the field became so interdisciplinary, it is increasingly important to form teams
for scenario building
1. Hannabuss, S. “Scenario planning for libraries”. Library Management v. 22 no. 4/5 (2001) p. 168-76.
2. Model based on Gerard Egan, Change Agent Skills B: Managing Innovation and Change (San Diego, Calif.:
University Associates, 1988), 5. Source: Deiss, K.J., et. al., “From here to there: moving to the future through
scenario Planning”. Library Administration & Management v. 13 no. 2 (Spring 1999) p. 99-104.
3. Model based on Gordon Robbins, “Scenario Planning: A Strategic Alternative”, Public Management, 77
(March, 1995): 7. Source: Giesecke, J. “Scenario planning and collection development”.
Journal of Library Administration v. 28 no. 1 (1999) p. 81-92
4. Model based on “Civic Scenarios as a Tool for Effecting Societal Change”. Generon Consulting.
Available at .
Practical scenario writing and implementation of different scenario models in libraries and educational institutions
- How do you see London School of Economics in ten years time?
Available at .
- Emery, J. “Scenario building: creating your library's future”. The Serials Librarian v. 38 no. 1/2 (2000) p. 15-21
- The Remaking of the Library: Planning the College Library for the Next Half Century. Hampshire College
Library Symposium, March 24 & 25, 2000. Available at
Other resources for scenario writers
- Scenario Practice (article by Art Kleiner), overview of several major books on scenarios, listing of web resources
for scenario writers: .
- IdeaBanks web sites listing: .
|I also used a number of other sources in 2003/04 when I worked on the presentation. Most of the URLs are not unavailable anymore
 How do you see LSE in ten years time?
 IdeaBanks web sites:
 great sites for library futures ideas and discussions:
 The Remaking of the Library: Planning the College Library for the Next Half Century
Hampshire College Library Symposium, March 24 & 25, 2000
 Web Resources for Scenario writers
 more links on leadership and thinking on the edge http://www.shambhalainstitute.org/2003_upcoming/module_snandr.html
 Based on Gerard Egan, Change Agent Skills B: Managing Innovation and Change (San Diego, Calif.: University Associates,
1988), 5. Source: Deiss, K.J., et. al., From here to there: moving to the future through scenario planning. Library Administration & Management v. 13 no. 2 (Spring 1999) p. 99-104.
 Based on Gordon Robbins, “Scenario Planning: A Strategic Alternative”, Public Management, 77 (March, 1995): 7. Source: Giesecke, J. Scenario planning and collection development [presented at the 1998 University of Oklahoma conference]. Journal of Library Administration v. 28 no. 1 (1999) p. 81-92
 Civic Scenarios as a Tool for Effecting Societal Change. Generon Consulting. Available at <http://www.generonconsulting.com/publications.htm>.
Hannabuss, S. “Scenario planning for libraries”. Library Management v. 22 no. 4/5 (2001) p. 168-76
Emery, J. “Scenario building: creating your library's future [preconference to the 1999 NASIG Conference]. The Serials Librarian v. 38 no. 1/2 (2000) p. 15-21