Teaching scenario planning : lessons from practice in academe and business

Wright, George and Cairns, George and Goodwin, P (2009) Teaching scenario planning : lessons from practice in academe and business. European Journal of Operational Research, 194 (1). pp. 323-335. ISSN 0377-2217 (http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejor.2007.12.003)

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In this paper, we engage with O’Brien’s [O’Brien, F.A., 2004. Scenario planning – lessons for practice from teaching and learning. European Journal of Operational Research 152, 709–722] identification of both pitfalls in teaching scenario planning and proposed remedies for these. We consider these remedies in relation to our own experience – based on our practice in both the academic and business arenas – and we highlight further pitfalls and proposed remedies. Finally, we propose the use of “hard” multi-attribute decision analysis as a complement to “soft” scenario planning, in order to allow a more formal method of strategy evaluation against a range of constructed scenarios, This approach is intended to remedy biases that are associated with holistic evaluations – such as lexicographic ranking – where undue attention is paid to particular strategic objectives at the expense of others. From this discussion, we seek to contribute to cumulative refinement of the scenario process.