The use of societal scenarios for improved corporate planning

Date of publication: August 1, 1981


The operating environment for many businesses is increasingly affected by social and political pressures, in addition to economic and technological ones. The need for systematic planning is generally accepted by business, but until recently it covered only the economic and technological aspects of its environment - social and political trends were taken into account only implicitly. There is nothing new in saying that societal dimensions are relevant. What is new is the attempt to develop planning procedures in which the more qualitative social aspects are explicitly considered. The development of multiple scenarios has provided such a mechanism. Each of the scenarios must be internally consistent, but discontinuities can be built in to them, so that "the future" need not reflect the past to any great degree. In addition, these scenarios provide the basis for scanning and monitoring the business environment. This paper describes two scenarios : a "hard times" for the United Kingdom; and "hard times" for the United States. The presentations of each are quite different, and illustrate the variety of ways in which scenarios can be developed. The final section of the paper provides a brief description of the development and use of scenarios.

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