Doing Scenario Planning Virtually

What is virtual scenario planning?  It is essentially traditional scenario planning with FSG consultants facilitating the project remotely. The process is identical to FSG’s traditional scenario planning process, but without consultants being onsite for planning, stakeholder interviews, scenario work sessions and strategy workshops.

What’s needed to make it work? Virtual scenario planning is no different than the in-person variety in that it requires significant client engagement, both of the user “core team” and from participants in the strategy workshops. The point is, working remotely does not reduce the client’s “skin in the game.” But it can make it easier for individuals to contribute, especially in organizations with widely dispersed personnel.

What adjustments are needed to do scenario workshops in the virtual space?  Scenario development work and strategy workshops are stretched out in time to maximize participant focus and group productivity. Sessions are shorter and breaks are numerous. As we all know, there are diminishing returns to long Zoom sessions, even with the most stimulating subject matter!

Can you combine the best of both in-person and virtual scenario planning?  Absolutely. In fact, FSG believes that some tasks like executive interviews can be done virtually, even for organizations otherwise choosing to embrace in-person meetings and workshops.

So why not do virtual scenario planning all the time?  FSG has found that the virtual option is next-best, but not wholly equivalent to an actual in-person scenario engagement. As much as we have all grown accustomed to Zoom/Teams interactions – and can recognize their benefits for routine business interactions – scenario planning is a unique process that demands focused participation and highly creative engagement, which most find more challenging in front of a computer monitor. In-person scenario planning also engenders valuable opportunities for informal interactions among participants during breaks and shared meals.

That said, the in-person variety of scenario planning is not always an option, and the Covid-19 experience has taught us that there is still tremendous value to be gained from a virtual futures experience.  And FSG can help with that.