Published on February 20, 2014
Scenario Planning for DRR
Background to the Scenario Planning process Origin in post WWII military planning – creating alternative cold war scenarios. Pierre Wack a planner with Shell used scenarios to alert Shell to the dangers of oil industry instability in the early 1970’s. Used in South Africa in a process known as the Mont Fleur scenarios to ensure a peaceful transfer of power in 1994. Used in natural resource management in the Millennium Assessment and at different scales in South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
What is Scenario Planning? Scenario planning is a tool, methodology or process for analysing the future in a creative and innovative way that challenges the mind to use past experience with current indicators and drivers to create plausible alternative futures. It is about Past, Present and Future! It is a tool for testing unpredictable “what if” situations. It is a tool for testing conventional plans and underlying assumptions. It is a tool for getting people to examine their own positions from a different perspective. Thinking the unthinkable.
Some underlying concepts: “There are always pockets of the future in the present. Some countries do things today that will take five or ten years to reach other countries. Some sectors of society are right now living in a way that is our future. Some people have ideas that will take twenty years to incubate and become generally accepted. Technologies exist that people have not yet heard of that will one day be commonplace”. (Anthony Hodgson, 2004)
“There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say there are things that we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we do not know we don't know. So when we do the best we can and we pull all this information together, and we then say well that's basically what we see as the situation, that is really only the known knowns and the known unknowns. And each year, we discover a few more of those unknown unknowns. It sounds like a riddle. It isn't a riddle. It is a very serious, important matter. There's another way to phrase that and that is that the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. It is basically saying the same thing in a different way. Simply because you do not have evidence that something exists does not mean that you have evidence that it doesn't exist. And yet almost always, when we make our threat assessments, when we look at the world, we end up basing it on the first two pieces of that puzzle, rather than all three”. – Former US Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld, From a Press Conference at NATO Headquarters, Brussels, Belgium, June 6, 2002
Scenarios work like we think!
Key Question Default Scenario Rich Picture Purpose Develop Awareness Of System Complexity / Drivers Drivers Policy Advice System Drivers Causal Relationships Result – Trans Scale Communication / Understanding / Foresight Driver Matrix Future Scenarios Purpose Scenario Matrix Scenario Narratives Conflict Resolution / Test Assumptions / Possible Futures
What Scenario Planning is not! It is not about trying to predict the future (it is more about preparing for the future)! It is not a panacea for all our planning problems (it is more about putting plans into perspective). It does not replace the need for conventional planning.
Some scenario planning examples :
Why might Scenarios be useful for the “X” situation? Ultimately a question you will answer ! However, the “X” situation is a complex system with a wide range of emerging issues Change is always happening how will the future look? The future always has shocks and surprises. Is your planning prepared for this? Perhaps more importantly are you prepared for this?
How participants feel… Confused Tired Frustrated Exited Amazed Informed Empowered Don’t worry all of this is normal …..
Determining the Key Question - What are you trying to address? The key question is important though to provide focus for the process it contains three important components - Subject Physical scale Time scale
The Rich Picture Understanding the “default scenario”. What is a default scenario? The default scenario is our existing reality – the comfort zone of the world around us, our assumptions and expectations of how the future will evolve In any circumstance we need to understand the world around us and the forces that are shaping it Rich Pictures world and issues help us explain and understand our
The Players The stakeholder analysis is a central part of the scenario planning process. It identifies the various “actors” and should be used to develop an understanding of the institutional geography and interests. It goes further than simply identifying who should, or should not, be involved in the process and, amongst many things, it provides us with an insight into how people perceive the system to be operating. Some stakeholder groups are easily identifiable particularly if they are formal institutions. However, there are often informal groupings or individuals within communities and sometimes within institutions that may have considerable unseen impact on institutional dynamics.
Driver Identification Working with and understanding system drivers is the central part of the scenario planning process. The initial objective is to capture as many system drivers as possible, no matter how insignificant the driver may seem. System drivers may have different forms and be conceptual or physical in nature. Don’t worry about duplication – this will be resolved by “clustering” later.
Driver Clusters In order to manage a large range of drivers they need to be clustered This can be done in various ways one of which is PESTEL Political Economic Social Technical Ecological Legal
Cause Effect Relationships The driver causal relationship diagram is a systems diagram that shows the relationship between drivers. The causal relationship diagram indicates through lines and arrows whether the relationship is a positive or negative relationship in respect of the key question developed at the outset of the exercise. In some cases, the relationship can be both positive and negative. The causal relationship diagram is a schematic representation of the system and is very useful in showing interdependencies and levels of complexity within systems. Ogilvy and Shwartz (2004) “systems thinking is good for deepening the scenario plots”, the participants are often astounded by visualising the linkages between driving forces they have identified.
Developing the Driver Matrix The driver matrix is a simple tool for analysing the impact and predictability/ responsiveness of a driver. The impact of the driver is the level of influence the driver has on the system to either maintain or change the system. The predictability is how much is known about the driver and how it will influence the system in the future. In scenario development, understanding driver impact and predictability is especially important for drivers that have a higher impact and are less predictable in respect of their future influence on the system. If the driver matrix has too many drivers, it can become cluttered and may need to be re-clustered. It is important to realise that, when looking at the driver matrix, the values higher, lower, more and less are not absolute, but relative to the other driver clusters.
Less Predictable Water LNP Driver Matrix 2007 Health and Disease Infrastructure Lower Impact Formal Economy Higher Impact Wildlife Livestock Governance More Predictable Demographics
Framing The Scenarios – The Scenario Matrix The approach outlined here is what Ogilvy and Schwartz refer to as “the deductive approach”. This approach involves drafting a scenario matrix out of the driver matrix in a process where “arriving at the axes is an interactive group process, driven as much by challenge as consensus” (Ogilvy and Schwartz, 2004). In this four possible futures are developed based on two key (preferably high impact low predictability) drivers. Each driver forms one of the axes and the extreme values identified earlier provide the basis for each “scenario plot”. Using a four scenario matrix, one scenario will be predominantly positive, one will be predominantly negative and two will be mixed.
CONSISTENT POSITIVE SCENARIO CONSISTENT CLIMATE AND SOUND INSTITUTIONAL ARRANGEMENTS RESULT IN SUSTAINABLE MAP COLLECTION SCENARIO PLOT 2 CLIMATE SCENARIO PLOT 1 MIXED SCENARIO CONSISTENT CLIMATE BUT FAILED INSTITUTIONAL ARRANGEMENTS RESULT IN OVER COLLECTION OF MAPs OVER MAPs COLLECTION MAPs COLLECTION SUSTAINABLE SCENARIO PLOT 3 MIXED SCENARIO VARIABLE CLIMATE BUT ROBUST INSTITUTIONAL ARRANGEMENTS RESULT IN SUSTAINABLE COLLECTION OF MAPs CLIMATE SCENARIO PLOT 4 NEGATIVE SCENARIO VARIABLE CLIMATE AND FAILED INSTITUTIONAL ARRANGEMENTS RESULT IN OVER COLLECTION OF MAPs VARIABLE
Scenario Narratives The scenario narratives ultimately are the key to the scenario planning process. They are the stories that take the complexity of drivers and their complex interactions and make them readily understandable. To assist in remembering and describing each scenario plot it is often useful to give each plot a catchy name. Narratives can be in various forms such as: Written stories Rich pictures Theatre Film The scenario narratives should be set in the time of the scenario horizon. However, it is important that the narrative brings out the “evolution” of events to the end point, in a manner that describes interactions over time rather than suddenly arriving at an end point. It is the creation of the narratives that should provide the participants of any scenario planning exercise the most enjoyment as pointed out by Ogilvy and Shwartz; “If you are not having fun you are not doing it right.”
Scenario Planning and DRR
To achieve meaningful DRR there is a need to understand the wider context in which disasters occur and will occur in the future. Scenario planning is a tool that can assist in this by: Integration with other planning approaches and simulation Informing management and policy reform Facilitating cross-scale and trans-disciplinary communication Assisting capacity building, awareness, education and knowledge building
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