Scenario Planning & Learning LO5443

Rhoderick van der WYCK (
Thu, 8 Feb 1996 11:27:52 +0100

Replying to LO5302 -- was Intro -- Brian Cox

Brian Cox wrote:

>My name is Brian Cox and I work in the Internal IS Consultancy
>Department of the Woolwich Building Society in Kent, England.
>My interest in Learning Organisations stems from my Ph.D research which
>aims to establish a link between Scenario Planning and 'organisational
>success'; measured in terms of increased shareholder value. I am
>currently working on constructing a model which describes how scenario
>planning contributes towards organisational learning, which in turn
>contributes towards increased shareholder value.
>Any comments, especially on how people feel about these relationships,
>are most welcome.


I was pleasantly surprised to read your introduction to this Learning
Organisation Society. The reason is because the subject you are tackling
in your Ph. D research has a great deal in common with the area of my
personal and academic interest. The thesis I completed here in the
Netherlands for my masters degree is entitled "Scenario Planning as
Learning: Metanoia". My research was predominatly focused at the
development of scenarios at Royal Dutch Shell and to what degree scenarios
constitutes organisational learning. I was given the opportunity to take a
look into the methodology of scenario planning at Shell and how they have
developed scenarios since the early 70's. The study was quite successful
and my professor was rather pleased with the results. The aspect of
shareholde value should be an interesting link, adding some hard figures
to the subject area.

This is a passage from the introduction of my thesis to give you a feel
for the direction I took.

Literature today is overwhelmed by authors presenting the new challenge
for managers in the turbulent business environment. An aspect of this
turbulence which is often pointed out is its relative importance varying
in size from simple industries to complex industries. This assumption
alone may be dangerous for the future of organizations which do not
understand aspects of the environment which may have a profound impact on
its business. The changes occurring around us are not, as in the past,
only limited to large firms having to deal with a multitude of
environmental forces but are affecting firms previously protected by
stability. Terms such as liberalization and globalization are order of the
day for increasing numbers of organizations.

The formulation of the problem runs as follows:

Against the background of an increasingly turbulent business environment,
one which is marked by complexity, change, and unpredictability, is
scenario planning an effective practical strategic planning instrument to
provide guidance into the future?

In this thesis I will examine the shift of mind, 'metanoia' necessary,
within the framework of the learning organization, to explain how scenario
planning can be a strategic solution to the turbulent changes taking place
in the business environment.

Few large corporations live even half as long as a person. In 1983, a
Royal Dutch\Shell survey found that one third of the firms in the Fortune
"500" had vanished. Shell estimated that the average lifetime of the
largest industrial enterprises is less than forty years, roughly half the
lifetime of a human being! The chances are fifty-fifty that reader of
thesis will see the firm they work at disappear during their working

Organizations can survive only if they are able to manage change while
maintaining a degree of stability to avoid a sense of confusion and lack
of direction. Organizations that efficiently manage both change and
stability will progress and grow. As the rate of change and complexity of
the business world increase, new and better ways must be found to
understand, anticipate, and respond to changes. Planning is a key
management process for helping organizations to maintain stability and, at
the same time, to change.

drs Rhoderick van der Wyck
Oasis Process Consulting

Tel +31 30 6066336 Fax +31 30 6065844 E mail:

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