What has TUNA to do with Strategy?
An Introduction to Strategic Insighting
We are living in times of unprecedented change. Rafael Ramirez and Angela Wilkinson,in their recent book ‘Strategic Reframing, The Oxford Scenario Planning Approach, have described these conditions with the acronym T.U.N.A. which stands for Turbulence, Unpredictable Uncertainty, Novelty & Ambiguity
Predicting the Future
Successful leaders in today’s organisations accept that the future is uncertain and find ways to build resilience, adaptability and agility in their organisations.
Traditionally we have defined strategy by using an in-depth understanding of our current situation and the business environment we operate in and extrapolating from there to predict a direction of travel and a set of future objectives.
In this turbulent world strategic planning based on a single notion of the future is no longer adequate. Such single-point approaches can give a false, sometimes dangerous, confidence that we are in control.
We also tend to think of, or conceptualize, the future as some place else, that we will plan for and travel to. This can create a simplistic view of the future and give us a false sense that we won’t have all the challenges, issues, and constraints that we have today.
It may be more accurate to think of the future as the events, circumstances and situations we will have to adapt to, right here, when they arrive.
Scenarios are alternative maps of how the future may unfold
Each of us has a ‘map of the assumed future’, an internally constructed and personal view, that operates at a subconscious level and influences our behaviour and decisions about the future.
Scenario planning creates a set of plausible futures by focusing on a few highly relevant and dominating issues or trends. The scenario planning process creates a platform for a group to expand their own personal map by building memorable and coherent stories to describe alternate plausible futures. This process can also help us to break out of the conditioning of our ‘assumed future’ and open our minds to a wider range of future possibilities.
The Oxford Scenario Planning Approach leads us to the place where we can step into each of those scenarios and look back to today and re-perceive our current behaviour, decisions and strategy through the lens of the alternative futures. This iterative re-framing and re-perception process can produce powerful new insights and learning that will help us to be more resilient, make better decisions and build wiser plans for the future.
By Mark Faulkner
Director, Mark Faulkner People Development