Scenarios ask people to challenge their assumptions. Assumptions are a form of belief. Organizations and individuals assign values to uncertainties. The accumulation of these values become the basis for what I call the “myth of the future,” that narrative construct that people carry around with them that forms their belief about what the future will look like, even as they know, intellectually, that much of this future narrative rests on unsound foundations. The role of scenarios in strategy is to expose these underlying assumptions, put names on the uncertainties, and then to confront them collectively, not as a single personal or organizational narrative, but as the basis for a consensus set of divergent futures that by existing, provide leverage to challenge any hidden narrative or assumptive beliefs.
How we believe is a worthy area of investigation. Some people, for instance, still choose to believe moon landings were a hoax, despite ample evidence to the contrary. The biggest flaw in all conspiracy theories falls on just how hard it is for people to collectively keep secrets.
A recent radio set from To the Best of Our Knowledge explored the idea of belief. I suggest you take a few minutes to listen to the segments on various aspects of belief. You can find the entire program here: Investigating Belief.
The program did not include Michael Shermer, one of the leading voices around understanding the mind and how it believes. I highly recommend his book as additional reading following your on-line listening. You can find more about Michael Shermer on this post.
Read more about strategy from Serious Insights here.