Future Scenarios Program


How Will You Plan in an Uncertain World?

We live in a fast-changing world, with more external pressures than ever before, and many outside our control. If we didn’t know it before COVID-19, we definitely know it now. And a global pandemic is just one of the many disruptions we will face in the short, medium, and long term.

In a fast-changing world, it’s impossible to predict the future, especially beyond the short term. So you make a plan, but even as you’re doing it, you worry that it’s already out of date.

As boxer Mike Tyson said,

“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.”

So do you just keep on making unrealistic plans, knowing something will come along to punch you in the face?

No! There’s a better way.

The things you don’t know WILL hurt you!

The pandemic – and other disruptions – affect us all in different ways, but the one thing that’s certain is we’re facing more uncertainty.

And uncertainty changes everything. Some people become paralysed by fear, others cross their fingers and hope for the best, and others march on with a false sense of security. But the best people, leaders, teams, and organisations roll up their sleeves and take action.

The solution is not to give up planning for the future. It’s about better understanding of the future, being more flexible with planning, and staying alert to change.

You don’t know exactly what the future holds (nobody does), so you aim for flexibility rather than accuracy. You imagine multiple futures, assess their plausibility, and keep your options open.

That’s where scenario planning comes in.

Scenario planning is a structured process to help build your foresight – that is, your ability to look at, over, and far beyond the horizon.

When you get this right, you’ll be significantly more productive because you and your team understand the risks and opportunities in the future, and you have created an organisation (and culture) that’s positioned to leverage those opportunities to stay ahead of the game.

The scenario planning process was first developed by Shell in the 1960s, when senior management realised many external factors could significantly affect the company’s strategic direction. So they created a ‘department of long-term studies’ (three people!) to explore and rank a series of alternative futures (scenarios), and present them to Shell management to feed into their strategic planning.

Now, more than 50 years later, the world is changing even faster, and we have to be even better prepared for future shocks and disruptions. We need scenario planning more than ever.

Who Is This For?

This program is all about understanding external pressures, so it’s ideal for leaders who want to build that skill for themselves and their team – for example:

  • A senior leadership team doing strategic planning
  • A board of directors to improve their governance
  • Department leaders who want to collaborate, innovate, and share ideas with each other
  • A leader (and their team) who wants to build foresight and flexibility in their team
  • A business owner (and their staff) who want their staff to be more innovative, flexible, and open to change

Key Messages

  • Understand external factors that could have a significant impact on your short-term, medium-term, and long-term plans
  • Help leaders and managers expand and broaden their thinking to have an external perspective
  • Engage the diversity and different perspectives of the entire team
  • Be more relevant, flexible, and resilient in your strategic planning
  • Foster a culture that embraces change and innovation

Program Outline

The core component of the Future Scenarios program is a workshop with four modules: Scan, Assess, Choose, and Track. This is a broad outline, which we tailor for your specific needs. For example, if this is presented as a conference breakout session, it will focus only on the Scan module.


I lead you in conducting an environmental scan to help you identify the external pressures that could affect your industry. I do some of this for you in advance, and then facilitate a discussion where you continue to build on this to scan even wider for key trends, opportunities, and threats.

This is the session where you’re getting the most value from me as a futurist, because I draw from the research I’m constantly doing – from different experts and across many industries. It will broaden your perspective, which is especially important for the rest of the program.


In this module, the group takes the key future trends identified in the environmental scan and assesses their impact on the short-term, medium-term, and long-term strategy. In other words, this is where you narrow down the trends to those that matter most to you.

This is a very interactive module, which involves a lot of discussion in the group. I guide and facilitate the discussion, but it’s mostly for the participants to apply their expertise and experience.


Although you have now identified the key trends, not all of them will have the same impact on your strategy. This will vary, depending on your market position, brand, structure, and even the roles of the people in the group. So, in this module, we take the key future trends from the previous module and work them up into a few (often four) plausible future scenarios.

Again, this is a very interactive session, which usually involves a lot of robust discussion (that’s good!). At the end of this module, the group will have identified clear future scenarios that will feed into your strategic plan.


Now it’s time to transfer ideas into actions, either to feed into your strategic plan or to guide future operations. I facilitate this session, where participants discuss how they will track these scenarios and overlay them into their future.

This is also an interactive module, with a lot of discussion within the participants. But it’s also the session where individual participants create their own strategy for incorporating these scenarios into their individual areas of responsibility.

The Full Package

Case Studies

Online Presentation

If you would like to see some of the elements of the program, watch the recording of my virtual masterclass below. But note this is not the full program – it’s only a few elements designed to help leaders understand more about the program and implement a few ideas in their own organisation.

Let's Talk

If you would like to know more, email gihan@gihanperera.com or phone 0417 928 278 (or +61 2 8005 5746 from outside Australia).

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