What is the point of scenarios?

Not much. Because scenarios are always ideal types – simplistic, very general and, above all, static images of the future. But the future depends on many factors that are constantly changing and have feedback effects. Numerous actors interact constantly, feedbacks change their positions. In the supposed China/Russia bloc, for example, India, Turkey, Indonesia and Saudi Arabia play dynamic roles. We should not try to reduce this complexity, but learn to deal with it. Things are in motion and will remain so; the future is radically open. 

In complexity management, we speak of emergent systems that are capable of internal reshaping through the interaction of their elements, generating new orders and meanings from disturbances. Their reactions are not predictable. We can no longer get anywhere with fixed scenarios, no matter how finely they are worked out. Pigeonholes remain. Let me quote the Zurich professor Felix Stalder: Networking teaches us to think much more in terms of processes, mixtures and transformations. Away from fixed categories to fluid, changing categories that appear and then disappear again. We can forget the hard and static categorization today.

Therefore, there is no fixed end from which to think. The scenario approach shows the longing for stability in an unstable world. We must learn to deal with high dynamic complexity and manage uncertainty. This includes 360-degree monitoring, strategic foresight and anticipation through early warning, management within cooperations and networks, dynamic risk management with its variable damage levels, probabilities of occurrence and risk compensations, entrepreneurial complexity management and the development of agile corporate strategies with short-term time horizons. Only an agile company can adapt quickly to different situations and thus remain maneuverable – like a glider that moves flexibly from thermal to thermal and covers long distances in this way.

Dr. Hans Joachim Fuchs

Picture> Unsplash

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