Scenario thinking, as described recently (Fin. Times, Sept. 16, 2005 at 10) starts with “articulating the official future.” The research for that “builds a story describing the assumptions that management has about the future, based on their observable actions.”
Next, the thinkers create multiple scenarios – “plausible future narratives” – that are different from predictions, “complemented by a best-case and worst-case scenario. As they develop these scenarios, the participants deliberately explore the broader context of possible futures. The final step is to construct the scenarios as plausible stories.
A law department can identify several potential trends that will influence it and build around each trend a scenario. For example, a law department might anticipate that employment-related matters – age discrimination suits, harassment claims, and severance disputes are going to loom larger and larger. One scenario, then, would be that the department work more closely with HR, host more training sessions, hire another employment counselor and another employment litigator, set up an arrangement with one or more law firms that represent employment matters, explore a mediation program and so forth.
I have written an article on tools of strategic planning.