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Notes on the Jazz of Scenario Planning --

or Scenario Planning from Viewpoints of System of Profound Knowledge

By Hanching Chung.( A draft note for a talk for the Taiwanese Organizational Learning Forum , Mar. 2th, 1999.)

The purpose of this two-hour talk and workshop is to briefing the status of Scenario Planning from perspectives of Deming's System of Profound Knowledge so that we can appreciate the limitations and the profound meaning of the arts and science of the long view. We'll review the idea of "management needs predictions" in business and organizational contexts.


Key words: purpose/aim, systems thinking, statistics/variations/uncertainties/risk,

knowing and realities, people and psychology, planning, technologies environment,

actions learning, human problems solving(bonded rationality and satisficing), unknown and unknowable, ideal and interactive planning, group learning and their mindset(mental models), dialoguing.

Key assumptions.

Systems approach. No matter how much data collected and computational power is acquired, there is no substitute for leadership, management and quality knowledge.

They are many unknown and knowable factors and forces. Only the reality is the right model for the future but we can only learn the complexity of future through model and theory. The systems thinking can help us apply the design science to the future systems with high complexity and uncertainty. Scenario planning approach using a lot of interviewing and dialoguing which need a new theory of future to be operational and meaningful. We can review several planning methodologies, including Ideal Design, Design Matrix, the approach by Jean Fourastie to enrich it.

Variations and stability. While statistics is some defined as the art and science of discovering what is at first difficult to see and later become obvious and the scenarios planning is mainly for disruptive or/and emerging situations, we can apply statistical thinking to any planning processes. The mythical Man-Month and the related laws.

In many ways the scenario planning approach is applying group or team thinking to plotting the dynamic profiles of likelihood functions and statistics thinking can help us overcome some potential traps.

Knowing and learning. We need a new theory of planning with scenarios in group. The proposed scenario planning is like shooting with a shotgun and need new concept or understanding of the following concept: feedback, time-space-actors cooperation, practice, learning, stable and calibration.. Interactive planning from ideal states with micro-level Plan-do-study-act is essential. Scenarios planning is not only a enumerative study but also a dynamic analytical study. We need to think about the cognitive, motivational and social determinants of questionable beliefs in the future studies.

Psychology*. People have their metal, physical and emotional needs and limitations.. Are we sure we can plan with left head and manage with right head (H Minntberg)? The possible expert systems of strategic management. I'll review the implications of James Marches view of the overlearning with respect to rationality for the scenario planning. What is the system of profound knowledge can help us undo the " unnecessary consequence of inhibiting the development of purpose into more complicated form of consistency"( J. March, 1971):

We can treat goals. as hypotheses

We can treat intuition as real.

We can treat hypocrisy as a transition.

We can treat memory as an enemy.

We can treat experience as a theory.


Some outlines notes.

History of Scenario Planning.(SP)

Three thousands years vs. fifties years.

The troubles of management by numbers, simulations of corporate financial, the rise and down of BCG tool kits and strategic management. Scenarios planning as a way of strategic management. Scenarios planning from Shell school...

History as a looking glass of SP.

The stories of DuPont electronics business and greater china concept.

The story of the growth of Foxconn Inc;. Hinet as the no. fifth ISP.

ITT Group vs. NEC C&C.

Intel's stories including the Andy Grover's big thinker of stealth attack( Forbes, Jan. 25, 1999.)

SP application categories and as part of strategic management.

The world as a system. Regional or country profiling. Industries or corporate or technologies mapping, personal/family development..

SP as a learning/dialoguing/visioning/new mental modeling process.

Approaches from M. Porter; P. Drucker; Sun-Tzu.; SP according to SoL.


…A reflection from SoPK. The role of social science and imagination for scenario planning. Toward a theory of scenario planning.

A very short workshop for the members of Forum.

Main Reference

M. D. Cohen and L. S. Sproull( editors, 1996) Organizational Learning ,Sage

Gill Ringland (1998) Scenario Planning-managing for the future., John Wiley & Sons.

Arun Maira and P. Scott-Morgan(1997) The Accelerating Organization, McGraw Hill Peter Senge (editor, 1994) The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook (Chinese translation) Commonwelth Publishing co., LTD

D. Yergin and T. Gustafson (1993) Russia 2010(Chinese translation) China Times .

J Chandler and P. Cockle(1982) Techniques of Scenario Planning, McGraw Hill

J. Jaworski (1996) Synchronicity--the inner path of leadership( Chinese translation) Yuan Jyh Culture Co.

Jean Fourstie(1985) La Civilisation De 2001(Chinese translation) Commerce Press

T. Gilovich(1991) How We Know What Isn't So Free Press

H. A. Simon (1997, 4th edition ) Administrative Behavior, The Free Press

H. Mintzberg (1989) Mintzberg on Management, The free Press

J. G. March (1994) A primer on Decision Making The Free Press

* For this subject, I think several papers in the Readings in Managerial Psychology( edited by H. J. Leavitt and L. R. Pondy, 2nd edition, 1973) maybe helpful particularly the following ones. The Technology of Foolishness by James G. March, The Science of " Muddling Through" by C. E. Lindblom and A Funny thing Happened on the Way to the future by W. G. Bennis.

I also learned a lot from four papers from Harvard Business Review. And I will acknowledge them later.

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