Introduction to Scenario Planning


Feb 25 2021


10:00 am - 11:30 am

Introduction to Scenario Planning with Tessa Gordziejko 25 February at 10 am on Zoom

What is Scenario Planning?

Scenario Planning is a tool for navigating uncertainty: moving into an unknown future in which organisations and individuals will nonetheless need to make choices which will have consequences for their work, life and communities.

Scenario Planning was initially a model for military strategy and was developed by academics and corporations in the late 20th Century. By ‘imagining the unimaginable’ it has enabled organisations on a range of scales and from different sectors to address long term uncertainties, devise a series of narratives and focus on dimensions most likely to impact on the organisation or sector.

Why Scenario Planning for the Cultural Sector?

Whilst the history of Scenario Planning might seem far removed from strategic decision making for the arts, there are a number of factors why it is strongly suited as an aid to our sector. These include:

The tendency to present the ‘best case scenario’ as the most likely (driven by ‘bidding’ mode) can be critical if – more often, when – the ‘best case’ does not prove to be what happens

The essentially narrative dimension of scenario planning is well aligned to the life blood of creative organisations. As a sector we deal in imagination, in ambiguities and nuances, hearts and minds, resonances and counter-resonances.  We have natural strength in this kind of strategic storytelling.

Why Now?

We face a near and medium-term future which is as unknown and insecure as we have ever been. In many ways, we are being forced to ‘think the unthinkable’ as default – it is becoming increasingly obvious that ‘business as usual’ is not something we can, or should, return to. There has never been a better, or more urgent, time to make future uncertainties into narratives that we can be a part of at whatever scale. It gives even small organisations, and individuals, as much agency and meaning as they can hold in the face of wild unpredictability and unparalleled new perspectives.

Tessa Gordziejko: I have a career of more than thirty years in the arts, as a producer, director, manager, board member, theatre maker and writer. In 2006, as part of a two-year Clore Cultural Leadership Fellowship, I undertook an MBA module at Leeds University Business School on Management Decision Making. My main study for the module was in Scenario Planning and its potential application in the Cultural Sector. I have continued to use the tools of Scenario Planning across my work.

Scenario Planning is an organisational activity that can take weeks or months in some organisations – depending on the nature of the decisions needing to be taken and the current state of knowledge and data. This ninety-minute session is designed to introduce participants to the background and principles of Scenario Planning and provide some initial building blocks for getting started which are appropriate to the scale of their capacity and activity.

By the end of the session, participants will be able to:

1. Understand the basic principles of Scenario Planning and assess how it might work for their cultural practice and business model.

2. Communicate these principles to others in their organisation (if applicable), partners, collaborators.

3. Initiate the early stages of a Scenario Planning exercise – identifying and isolating the key decisions to be taken; information hunting and gathering; start to map driving forces.

4. If needed, write a clear brief for an external advisor, sounding board or consultant to support them in creating narrative ‘plots’ for different scenarios, and strategies that work across them.

5. Understand how Scenario Planning could be undertaken as a collaborative basis across several similar organisations – for example across BPH.

Introduction to Scenario Planning will include live captions. Please join us by registering below, an email will be sent to you with details to join us on Zoom. For any further questions please email us at

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