Data-Driven Scenario Stories

It turns out that we intuitively judge the value of new information based on their plausibility, consistency, relevance, novelty and differentiation.

Plausibility and consistency are the two most important factors that contribute to stakeholder acceptance of scenarios.

For a story to seem plausible, there needs to be enough familiar and predictable elements that ground the scenario in reality.

Morphological Analysis can also highlight contradictory scenario drivers and ensure differentiation between scenarios.

Morphological Analysis, A Review of Scenario Planning (2013)Moreover, stories are believable when each scenario element is supported and reinforced by every other element.

A Consistency Matrix correlates the strength and unity of the linkages and dependencies between selected scenario drivers, making the overall narrative more coherent and potent.

Scenario Consistency Matrix, A Review of Scenario Planning (2013)So here’s arguably the most important and oft-forgotten final step.

The numbers have to be put back into words.

Data scientists are tasked with returning information, not data, back to our organizations and society.

A case study on scenario-writing by the University of Virginia outlines a useful checklist to ensure that scenario stories are meaningful and compelling:They articulate vivid stories of new future worlds.

They create decision-making power by generating useful insights.

They describe plausible versions of future realities.

They earn credibility by maintaining internal and logical consistency.

They express structural or qualitative differences from one other.

They remain memorable so that lessons may persist over time within an organization.

They challenge an organization’s conventional cultural wisdom.

How to Start RehearsalsHow can we start rehearsing the future?.The National Council for Voluntary Organizations offers a practical guide for kicking off your first scenario planning session with your teams.

As we collectively learn to speak a whole new language and iteratively adapt through scenario planning, perhaps we will finally be able to bridge the gap between business and technology.


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