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The Oxford Scenarios Programme (OSP) is an executive education programme at the Saïd Business School of the University of Oxford that uses ‘reflective practice’ (Schön 1983) to help individuals alone and in groups learn by doing and reflecting. Since 2007 this experiential learning (Markulis 1985) has been helped by deploying “live client case studies” to ground the learning in a real, still-unfolding, setting. Our designing executive education as an inquiring system (Churchman 1971) includes wider stakeholder engagement as a foundation for learning. The main purpose of the OSP is to help participants to improve the effectiveness of their scenario planning by understanding the epistemology, theories and methodology that underpin choices of methods (techniques, practices, tools) used in any scenario planning engagement. Grounding this in a real engagement with live ‘clients’ helps learners but little is known about how it helps or is meaningful to clients and their organizations. It is this experience with clients we analyze in this paper. The OSP has been a week-long programme since 2007 occurring twice each year. The clashes between theory and practice that this programme design surfaced has helped faculty to produce research that clarifies methodological and epistemological misunderstandings (e.g., Ramirez and Wilkinson 2014, 2016). The stable format offers laboratory-like conditions to allow
comparison of how live case client executives benefit from a limited exposure (set up brief, three hours Monday evening, one on Wednesday, and 90 minutes on Friday) to scenario planning applied on an issue that matters to their organisation. We used abduction (Suddaby 2006) and interpretative research (Gephardt 2004) to study 22 live case clients drawn from 15 OSPs since 2007. We designed, tested, and used a questionnaire to explore dependent variables on (i) how actual values derived from claims in scenario planning literature were met and (ii) how purpose expectations compared with outcome. As engaged scholarship (Trist, Murray, and Trist 1990; Van de Ven 2007) that links theory and practice, our findings suggest the ‘impact’ of executive education and development can extend to the executives of a large number of organisations beyond the executives attending the programme and thereby extend the meaningfulness of business schools. Findings inform the literatures on (a) management education and (b) scenario planning.
In this paper we argue that that which philosophers consider as being included in the domain of the aesthetic is a crucial aspect determining the plausibility of a narrative; that plausibility actually plays a more significant role than probability in many cognitive processes of deliberation and decision making; and that the aesthetics of story-telling is a technology of the plausible.
We offer two case-studies, one an ancient account of deliberation and decision making, the other from a modern newspaper article, to illustrate our argument that the aesthetic is an essential element in various stages of the process of decision making, from determining what needs to be decided, through identifying the basis for decision making, to the act of decision making itself. In that context, we highlight the role of the aesthetic in the framing of future possibilities in the process of scenario planning.
In conclusion, we propose that focusing on the aesthetics of story-telling as a technology to create and share plausibility is a useful way to analyse scenario stories in scenario-planning work; we hope that it may be a useful concept with which to develop further research in this area.
This paper explores how socio-ecological strategy-making research applies to Swiss watchmaking. We review the literatures on fields, apply this review to socio-ecological strategy, explain how turbulence is manifested in Swiss watchmaking, and assess the viability of socio-ecological scenario planning in this field. We contribute an empirical assessment to socio-ecological strategy and relate scenario planning to field theory. We conclude by exploring research implications of this study.
Traditional strategy assumes stability and predictability. Today's world is better characterised by turbulence, uncertainty, novelty and ambiguity - conditions that contribute disruptive changes and trigger the search for new ways of coping.
This book aims to become the premier guide on how to do scenario planning to support strategy and public policy. Co-authored by three experts in the field, the book presents The Oxford Scenario Planning Approach (OSPA). The approach is both intellectually rigorous and practical. Methodological choices and theoretical aspects in practice are detailed in reference to the relevant literatures and grounded in 6 case studies the authors have been involved with.
The book makes several contributions to the field, centred on how learning with scenario planning is supported by re-framing and re-perception; how this iterative process can be embedded in corporate or government settings, and how it helps those that it supports to do well in today's world.
The book is written in an accessible style and will be a useful introductory text as well as a useful guide for the more experienced scenario planning practitioner and scholar.