Book circle instead of scenario planning?

How much I promote scenario planning as a crucial tool for organizations I can’t ignore the fact that an effective scenario planning process requires both skills, time, effort, and an organization open to higher level of thinking.

Are there alternatives to discuss uncertainties and open a manager’s mind? Could we do that by e. g reading and discussing thoughtful novels?

In the article How fiction can help business managers prepare for the uncertainties of the pandemic the authors argue that this can be done in the shape of a book circle.

By reading the novel, business managers can compare the world we live in today and the path our countries and corporations are on to the fictional events in the novel. This can help them pay attention to and address less comfortable, and sometimes often neglected, sensitive workplace issues that need to be considered when planning for the future.

Especially during lockdown when many of us are stuck at home and need both recreation, new input, and some time away from the screen, reading a novel could be a brilliant alternative.

I think this is an interesting model for an organization to discuss and relate to e g otherwise unthinkable futures. At least it is a way to start a conversation that otherwise might not occur.

The article mentioned above proposes an eight-step plan to use literary texts to open up the discussions about sensitive issues within the organization. I updated it a bit to handle more general futures issues.

  1. Gather a team of managers and key employees
  2. Let the team pick a futures related issue
  3. Chose collectively a novel which you believe discuss the issue
  4. Read the novel individually and record ideas and consequences relating to the chosen issue
  5. Each member present their findings to the group
  6. Especially interesting sections are selected and documented 
  7. Analyze selected sections together with the team
  8. Write a report describing the findings and what measures the organization might take

Perhaps this can the model for your next version of Future Friday sessions?

The article refers to Brave New World (written in 1931) by Aldous Huxley. A very good choice, but there are many others. Here is a short list of science fiction novels that have inspired entrepreners.

Remember, the point with science fiction is not that it is predictive. It reframes our perspective on the world and opens up for new thinking.

Other articles about the value of science fiction for managers with recommendations of relevant novels to read: