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Scenario Planning for the Built Environment

In order to shape the future of construction, a branch of our economy that has been in heavy weather for quite some years now, network X set out on a series of collaborative sessions during the spring and summer of 2014. The sessions were divided in several parts, Part 1 being scenario planning, in order to create common ground and a vision of a desired future.


This is what happened: The network was divided, all partners were in for a new business

model, all of them again and again stated to commit to abstract phrases like knowledge sharing, increasing brand awareness, supply chain collaboration and new business. They were the terms they had come up with together, terms that had to characterize their new and improved network.

The 20 members of the network were all commercial parties active in construction, the entire network encompassing construction & supply chain. There was a contractor, builder, project manager and all the suppliers one could imagine, from roofers

to legionella specialists. The network had come from a traditional old boys gathering, including sky-high costs of printing a quarterly magazine and the relatively passive collaboration model of selectively sharing your network and awarding work to those you

knew.


This had to change and it had to change quickly. But none knew how. The board had initiated a lot of actions and had become tired of acting as the sole driving force of the 'new'. The members of the network wanted to change, but could not imagine the abstract to become concrete, could not envision the practicalities of implementing the terms they had come up with themselves.


The board wanted the members to become more proactive and the members looked at the board for guidance. Actions set out for and by the network decreased; until both sides became increasingly annoyed with the lack of track record it was capable

of building. In other words, the network was stuck. Enter scenario planning.


During an interactive group session, the network's four themes: knowledge sharing, increasing brand awareness, new business and supply chain integration, were elaborated on from the perspective of the two axis of scenario planning chosen for this session: transparency and sharing. In four groups, each group had to think of ways to implement the four themes in the scenario it got assigned. These quadrants could range from transparent-sharing to not-transparent to not sharing.


Next, each group objectively discussed its scenario, leading to a discussion on how to fill out the four themes for the network if the respective scenario was carried through. It allowed the members to think pragmatically about desired and undesired ways their

collaboration could develop. Finally, all engaged in the discussion on how 'we wanted to do things around here' from a wider perspective than just the individual interest of a member. The network was able to reach common ground on how to deal with their four themes. Especially since some of the scenarios pointed out what nobody wanted, it became easier to think about 'what then...?'


The four themes became tangible, determined by an uniqueness that would not be possible in a different network, or with different members: a proposition was born.


Using this approach, the network came from abstract thought to concrete action and content. Scenario planning gave them focus and direction to bridge the gap between expectations and action. The next step in actively creating the future of construction lies in applying the four themes to creating value in a network specific way by means of another tool, The Value Creation Canvas.

For more information on scenario planning, please visit its wiki:

Or contact me at sann@sonow.nl

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