What does De Geus attribute the capacity of some organizations to achieve long term success and sustainability? How does de Geus state the case for scenario planning? How does it happen? Why is it needed in a rapidly changing world?
We cannot predict the future but we can definitely explore its possibilities (Shell International, 2003). According to de Geus, A. (1998, March-April) the reason for the survival and success of companies such Shell International over the years was the fact that its scenario managers were able to identify, study, and understand the market dynamics and take necessary precautions to ensure that these changes in the market did not negatively affect the company, but rather that it survived or succeeded in various uncertain times. According to, The Management Lab (Innovation: Scenario Planning), Shell is considered as one of the most identifiable companies on Scenario planning. This was what de Geus, A. (1998) explained as “Panning as Learning” or in other words, Institutional Planning, where managers could exchange information regarding their companies and interested parties.
Crisis management is pain management and a company in such a situation leaves everyone in it feeling the effect. Decisions make are rush and the implementation terrible. This is due to the fact that in this situation the type of leadership is dictatorial and everyone in the company is always on edge. This is what therefore sets apart the companies that have been in existence for years with those that are always struggling to survive or hardly ever get through a particular crisis or market change/shift.
The ability of a company to transcend various market situations depends on how well it knows itself and the market in which it operates. It is evident that such companies like Mitsubishi, British American Tobacco, and Shell have “leaved” this far due to the fact that they not only have extensive knowledge of their industries, but also use this knowledge to metamorphosis to a more current and relevant form.
Des Geus also indicated that, people, or rather managers in most organizations have the ability learn about their market because this is involved in the everyday process of decision making. He however points out that in this day and age, how fast one learns and acts on the gained knowledge ma determine everything with regard competition.
The process of institutional learning can however be accelerated within an organization through various means such as, changing the rules in the organization, or even doing away with these rules, if only for a time. Playful tactics which may involve coming up with scenarios have been proved to accelerate the learning process in an industry as was seen in Shell during the 1980‘s.
This sort of scenarios planning as was evident at Shell suggests that, as important as it is to carry out such an activity, timing is everything. Scenario planning ensured that Shell was not affected a much as other companies in 1986 when the price of oil went down because they had foreseen possible effect of a possible plummet in oil prices in future, even though just as a scenario, and had structured their thinking towards this possibility.
In a rapidly changing world it would therefore be prudent for every company and its managers to consider scenario planning as a strategic means of survival. This is due to the fact that, in our world today, nothing is certain but the possibilities are endless. Forehand preparation and structure to handle this occurrences should they fall, is of at most importance, lest the company or people in it see not need to exist beyond now.
In this paper, I have considered India as my case study. The problem in India is that despite the large population, and the fact that it is also considered as one of the largest democracies in the world, at it at a level that hardly depicts this facts. Instead, the country is marred, with corruption, high infant mortality, high social and economic disparity, high illiteracy level, and completion among the business community that struggles to divide the country. As such, the country has looked at various scenarios that could occur in future with the aim of encouraging healthy discussion among its population.
According to the scenarios depicted by The Confederation of Indian Industry (2000), they sought to show how India would be like in the year 2010. In the scenario of Fireflies Arising, a very rosy picture was painted of what that future might be.
It indicated a time when people pull would be pulling together, and towards the same end. A time when innovation would be at an all time high and people were connected to the internet in almost every corner of the country, a factor which encouraged education not only among the young but also among everyone who was willing. Businesses would be flourishing and than cut throat competition, the provision of services and a source of income for the people is the objective. The chalta hai approach to life is a distant memory as everyone is mindful of everyone else.
This scenario depicts a possible future, and as such, fosters healthy discussion among relevant parties a step forward in the development of the nation as a whole.
Confederation of Indian Industry (2000). Scenarios for India 2010. The Boston Consulting Group.
Geus, A (1998, March-April). Planning as Learning. Harvard Business Review.
Shell International (2003). Global Business Environment. Scenarios: An Explorers guide.
The Management Lab. Innovation: Scenario Planning.
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