by Ian Gourley, Up Your Level, Academy Manager

Post COVID, War in Ukraine, Energy Crisis, Rising Inflation, Eco protests….what a great time to consider the long view and what’s around the corner. We are living the “perfect storm” for scenario planning and its worth revisiting how pertinent the art of the long view means today.

A world of uncertainty

The standard text on scenario planning is, “The Art of the Long View – Planning for the Future in an Uncertain World”, by Peter Schwartz. Having dived into it again, wow, what insights it offers us. Schwartz’s argues that as the future is so uncertain, it makes us all anxious and blurs our decision-making ability. To equip ourselves for the shifting uncertainty in today’s world we must rely on scenarios.

As he argues, to operate in an uncertain world, we need to break away from the “business as usual mindset” and be able to reperceive – to question our assumptions about the way the world works, to see the world more clearly.

Our future reality

This is great thing about scenarios, as their very purpose is to help ourselves change our view of reality – to match it up more closely with reality as it is, and reality as it is going to be. Of course, this is not the crystal ball predicting the future but what scenarios do is allow us to make better decisions about the future. It is necessary to confront uncertainty in the face, admit and embrace it and I think for all of us post-COVID, this is something we are now adept at. Expanding our perceptions can only add to the richness of stories we can bring to scenario planning.

Future scenario components

Three essential components must be addressed to create our scenarios of the future:

  1. Driving Forces – revisiting PESTLE analysis in this uncertain world to identify the drivers
  2. Predetermined Elements – facts we can identify now; like population change
  3. Critical Uncertainties – issues we cannot yet identify; such as younger generation’s attitude to work

What I love about scenario planning is that it allows us to step back and look at the long view or around the corner to that uncertain future and gives us the freedom to question our belief in more of the same.

Decision Making for the Prefect Storm…

In conclusion, as the ‘Perfect storm’ gathers with increasing levels of uncertainty – there has never been a more pertinent time to explore the long view of scenario planning. Look at the landscapes out there, be daring, go beyond and take a deep long look into the future.

In practical terms scenario planning provides that ‘outside the box’ thinking which can clarify potential choices seen around the corner. It helps us break away from the ‘business as usual’ mindset. Very often we are hindered by the opportunity cost of not taking decisions whether to invest, hire or expand. By embracing the art of the long view, coming up with an array of potentially exciting or daring scenarios, our decision making can only be enhanced.

Interested in learning more?

Check out our series of thought-provoking short courses at UP academy at

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