Clearly, the main task of leadership is to gain control of the future.
In the early 1990’s scenarios were being used in Shell to help managers react almost instantly to new realities as they were emerging. According to Jaworski (Synchronicity : The inner path of leadership : 1998 : 181) this approach to scenarios is grounded in the deepest assumption that we as human beings hold – that we cannot change things, so we must live our lives reacting to forces outside our control. Jaworski proposes an alternative : if individuals and organisations operate from the generative orientation, we can create the future into which we are living, as opposed to merely reacting to it when we get there. The BMI-BRSCU Strategic Forum is premised on this approach to Scenarios.
Scenario planning is fundamentally long-term in nature. Therefore, it is essential that a consistent and enduring tracking system be followed, to develop the capability to lift out of the natural pre-occupation with the short-term, with today’s events, to a process which makes it possible for the longer term unfolding scenario to be perceived. As stated by Thomas Friedman, in his best-selling book The Lexus and the Olive Tree (2000), “Particularists- – – pigeonhole priorities, pursuing them separately and simultaneously, with little thought to how each might undercut the other. They proceed confidently enough from tree to tree, but seem astonished to find themselves lost in the forest. The great strategists of the past kept forests as well as trees in view. They were generalists, and they operated from an ecological perspective.”
Today more than ever, the traditional boundaries between politics, culture, technology, finance, national security and ecology are disappearing. You often cannot explain one without referring to the others, and you cannot explain the whole without reference to them all.Therefore – – – you have to learn how to arbitrage information from these disparate perspectives and then weave it all together to produce a picture of the world that you would never have if you looked at it from only one perspective.
That is the essence of INFORMATION ARBITRAGE. In a world where we are all so much more interconnected, the ability to read the connections, and to connect the dots, is the real value added provided – – – If you don’t see the connections, YOU WON’T SEE THE WORLD. (Thomas Friedman : The Lexus and the Olive Tree : 2000)
Therefore, the BMI-BRSCU Quarterly Strategic Forum for the Building, Construction and Property Industries follows an essentially HOLISTIC strategic approach. We creatively utilise the principles of INFORMATION ARBITRAGE in assisting clients to develop COMPETITIVE industry foresight as input to the strategic planning process, with the overriding objective of developing strategic leadership as a way of business life.
Therefore, our Quarterly Strategic Forum has been designed to provide a carefully selected, multi-disciplinary and multi-functional group of clients, with a holistic, systems-thinking based, environmental surveillance capability, with the potential to develop the type of industry foresight which can powerfully impact the strategic direction of the organisation.
– – – the world is a web, in which adjustments made here are bound to have effects over there – everything is interconnected.
– – – without some awareness of the whole
– – – without some sense of how means converge to accomplish or frustrate ends
– there can be no strategy. AND WITHOUT STRATEGY, THERE IS ONLY DRIFT.
(Thomas Friedman : The Lexus and the Olive Tree : 2000)
From the following model it can be noted that monitoring of the CURRENT REALITY versus the SCENARIOS, is an important component of CREATING THE FUTURE. In the process, the current reality at any given time, can be compared with the various scenarios. A view can then be developed as to which scenario pathway, the industry appears to be travelling on. Which future it is heading toward, based on the current performance of the industry, against the pre-identified pathway signals, or memories of the future. The scenarios assist the observer or interpreter to recognise the pathway signals, as they occur, and it is then up to the observer to take actions, to direct the organisation toward intercepting the envisioned future.
It is clear that scenario learning is an on-going process – not an individual event. As stated by Charles M. Perrotet (Learning from the future : 39) “A well designed scenario process has great value the first time it is used, but like a good wine, it improves with age. The tool promotes mental agility by opening minds to multiple possibilities. As one observer said, if you use scenarios, you will never read the newspaper the same way again.”