Article

Thinking together about the future when you are not together: The effectiveness of using developed scenarios among geographically distributed groups

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Abstract

Scenarios have been effectively used over the years to trigger and accelerate learning, to stretch the mental models of managers, and as a tool for helping executives to develop strategies in the face of uncertainty. However, the scenario literature frequently assumes a high degree of continuity between the scenario-building process and the use of the resulting scenarios in strategy development, and that the participants throughout these processes will be in the same geographic location. As part of a research project exploring the future of transportation in the Asia-Pacific region, we examine the use of previously developed scenarios by transport experts to re-imagine the future of transportation in the region. Our approach involved delivering scenarios online to enable the participation of various stakeholders in the region who were geographically dispersed. The results show that the developed scenarios contributed to individual learning that, in turn, led to a change in mental models. The results also demonstrate that scenario-related processes can be conducted online to be more cost-effective, flexible, and less constrained by geographic barriers. In doing so, this paper usefully extends both the theoretical and practical dimensions of this topic by exploring an alternative approach for large participation in scenario-related processes in the public domain.

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... A wide range of specific scenario methods has been developed over the years, ranging from desktop studies, surveys, statistical methods, workshop methods, and model-based methods (e.g. Quist et al., 2007;Carter et al., 2013;Dammers et al., 2013a,b;Dammers, 2017;Evely, 2013;Vervoort et al., 2014Vervoort et al., , 2015Kok et al., 2015;Van Bers et al., 2016;Hew et al., 2018;Van den Ende et al., 2020). CoCliServ is a transdisciplinary project, collaborating with local communities, and aiming to place the community in the drivers seat. ...
... Some authors have argued that remote scenario development, e.g. via internet, is also possible (Hew et al., 2018), but in many cases face-to-face interaction will be preferable. Case studies may however have relatively little time for developing in-depth strategies and action plans. ...
Technical Report
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We developed, tested and refined a novel incremental participatory scenario approach. This method allows for the development of normative scenarios, pathways that lead to desirable futures, with local communities, through a non-linear approach. Developments in the real world rarely follow straightforward linear paths. The approach inventories ‘hinge points’: critical moments in time where things might lead to a better or worse future. The hinge points facilitate the inventory of critical challenges and ambitions relevant to the local situation: climate-related as well as key socio-economic, legal, policy/political, and technological ones. They also allow for exploration of key needs for information or climate services that might be useful to local actors at a given point in time. The method was ground-tested and refined in five case studies in the Netherlands, Norway, France, and Germany. The cases showed that the new approach could be applied and tailored successfully in a variety of situations. Goal/Purpose of the document - Document the novel participatory incremental scenario approach developed by the CoCliServ project. - Detail how locally embedded visions, scenarios, hinge points, and climate information needs can be derived, together with local communities. - Provide guidance and examples to others who might want to use this incremental scenario approach.
... In the research project, the scenario approach was modified and improvised to suit the needs of engagement with a group of senior stakeholders while both valuing their limited availability and enabling collaborative yet asynchronous engagement (Cairns, Wright, & Fairbrother, 2016). The intent of the scenario approach was to use developed scenarios as prompts to engage a broad range of stakeholders with substantial knowledge of transportation issues in the region (Hew, Perrons, Washington, Page, & Zheng, 2018). With the application of digital technology, the delivery of scenarios was conducted online to enable the participation of various stakeholders from different geographical locations more efficiently. ...
... As part of a research project exploring transportation in the Asia-Pacific region (Hew et al., 2018), the scenario approach involved delivering scenarios online to enable the participation of 60 transport experts in the region to re-imagine the future of transportation in the region, and then provide their opinions regarding transport options and mobility-related commodity prices. On a website developed for the investigation, three scenarios were presented as videos, designed in verbal and pictorial forms using important multimedia principles (Mayer, 2008, Mayer & Moreno, 2002 to explain causal chains and interrelations among factors in the environment. ...
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When scenarios are utilised in strategy development exercises, they are typically conducted in workshops that often take a day or more to execute, and require extensive planning to prepare and assemble a group of participants in a single location. In this paper, we explore the application of digital technologies to engage more efficiently a variety of stakeholders from the transportation domain in scenario-based activities. Several participants in the research project were selected to reflect via semi-structured interviews on the online approach and describe their experience. The findings suggest that the application of digital technologies to deliver scenarios and solicit feedback from exercise participants was mostly successful. These results accordingly show that online delivery models offer the potential for deep engagement with a range of scenario stakeholders, thereby making it possible for would-be users of scenarios to include participants who are not in the same geographic location.
... Some authors have argued that remote scenario development, e.g. via internet, is also possible (Hew et al., 2018), but discussion among community members would seem more appropriate for CoCliServ. Most case studies will however have relatively little time for developing in-depth strategies and action plans. ...
Technical Report
Full-text available
We conducted case studies using a novel incremental scenario approach. With local actors, we co-developed visions of desirable futures, normative scenarios that might lead towards those futures, and inventoried ‘hinge points’: critical moments in time where things might lead to a better or worse future. To bridge the latter, specific information or climate services might be needed. The cases showed that the new approach could be applied and tailored successfully in a variety of situations. The novel notion of hinge points allowed us to inventory critical challenges and ambitions relevant to the local situation: climate-related as well as key socio-economic, legal, policy/political, and technological ones. It also resulted an inventory of key information and climate service needs.
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