Discover how transformative scenarios can improve your organizational strategy, and prepare your team to thrive in any potential future.
Navigating an evolving and complex world requires new strategies
Since 2020, organizations have had to negotiate a changing world.
The economic and social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been far-reaching. At the same time, the world has faced challenges such as climate and natural disasters and the rise of social and political unrest.
In our ever-changing world, traditional approaches to addressing crucial societal problems are becoming increasingly obsolete. Organizations, therefore, need systemic, collaborative, and creative approaches to meet the challenges of our times.
The question then is, how are progressive organizations dealing with the ebb and flow of change? And, what strategies can help navigate and respond to change in a more strategic and planned way?
In this article, we will unpack how innovative organizations are using a process called Transformative Scenario Planning to help build more resilient, agile, and empowered institutions.
Let us get started.
What is the Transformative Scenario Process (TSP)?
While most scenario planning methodologies focus on adaptation alone, TSP seeks to not only understand or adapt to the future but also to shape it.
It’s an incredibly productive approach that’s used to help groups unpack deeply complex issues.
In fact, TSP is unique to Reos. It was born out of work done in early post-apartheid South Africa. Where diverse people groups with extremely complex social histories needed to work together to forge a hopeful future together. This experience along with so many more helped unearth what we now call Transformative Scenario Planning.
“Its purpose is to enable those of us who are trying to change the future collaboratively to transform, rather than adapt to the situation we are part of.” – Adam Kahane, Transformative Scenario Planning – Working Together to Change the Future
The transformative scenario process (TSP) facilitates the gathering of a highly diverse group of individuals who have a stake in the issue at hand and represent a cross-section of a particular society, sector, or system.
TSP enables the group to talk in a structured, but creative way. This process is beneficial because it allows stakeholders to:
- better understand the complex problem they’re trying to resolve
- build shared capacity to talk together about what’s possible and
- converge on what can be done to shape the future
The goal of TSP is to enable stakeholders to work together to see the potential of their system and is a unique tool to support strategic organizational planning.
How is TSP used across civil organizations to build resilience and agility?
We’ve spent many years refining TSP so that organizations across the globe can consider the challenges the future has in store to help them develop agile and resilient strategies that can help them respond to a crisis at any given moment.
This was the case with the Ford Foundation.
The Ford Foundation strives to reduce poverty and injustice, strengthen democratic values, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ford Foundation recognized the need to re-examine strategic choices made before this unprecedented global event. Says Martín Abregú, Vice President for International Programs, the leadership team sought to examine:
“How can we adapt, given the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, to pursue our mission to reduce inequality around the world?”
A small group of Ford Foundation colleagues and key external stakeholders from around the world took part in Reos Partners’ TSP, involving a series of conversations considering how to engage with global systems in a new way to drive equity.
The exercise resulted in the development of three imagined scenarios about how global power and influence could play out over the next ten years.
“These scenarios help us see which of our current tactics make sense in the world as we understand it today (or as we understood it yesterday),” says Abregú, “and what we might need to do differently as our understanding of what is happening changes.”
By anticipating potential futures, organizations are emboldened to identify the actions needed in each scenario, enabling them to remain agile and responsive to global change.
Why is TSP so successful and sustainable in driving organizational success?
To create lasting change, it is necessary to develop strategies that become part of the fabric of your organization. That’s why TSP is effective because it enables participants to work with people from diverse groups to help distill change from many different levels of an organization.
For example, Heifer International focuses on ending hunger and poverty through diverse programs that support small-scale farmers, and communities worldwide.
Like most organizations, Heifer had to react to the disruptions caused by COVID-19. Of particular relevance for their work: The pandemic triggered a rise in global poverty for the first time in more than 20 years.
Realizing the world was not going “back to normal” Heifer’s leadership sought a strategy to increase organizational resilience to disruptions that will continue to occur in the political, environmental, and economic spaces.
“They wanted to look ahead and be ready for potential threats as opposed to reacting to them,” says Manuela Restrepo of Reos Partners.
Using a modified version of TSP, Reos Partners engaged senior leaders to imagine possible futures for the world around Heifer in the next decade. Climate crises, geopolitical conflicts, and other immense challenges were all considered in this process.
“Our process focused on gathering data from members of the organization, opening spaces of learning about what is happening in the world, and creating high-level scenarios that were later used to think about implications for the organization,” says Restrepo.
Like Heifer, organizations that have engaged with the TSP method have found that they are better able to think outside of the box, prepare for future possibilities and that they have the capacity to grow stronger and more resilient teams.
What are the benefits of using the TSP method?
At Reos, we believe that exploring different ways of thinking about the future allows organizations to enter into scenarios that would otherwise never have been considered.
TSP has been able to:
- create environments of trust to enable diverse stakeholders to work together toward shared solutions.
- help organizations develop increased confidence to plan, prepare, respond and recover from crises.
- allow organizations to strategically assess which activities and initiatives require focus.
Watch this video to hear Adam Kahane of Reos Partners talk more about the potential and benefits of TSP.
Change is our only constant. The most important tools leaders can have in their toolbox are agility and resilience.
Because when organizations are resilient they have the opportunity to bounce back stronger after challenging times.
TSP methodology can help organizations connect across structures to spark new growth and development. In short, this methodology creates the potential for positive action to shape a better future and actualize real change.
Reach out to us!
All organizations could benefit from organizational strategies to prepare them for the future. If you’re looking to get started with transformative scenario planning, click the button below to get in touch with one of our experts today.