Leesvoer: het beroemde "planning as learning" artikel over Shell's scenarioplanning

  • nov 2014
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Een mooie aanvulling op ons denken over de lenige en lerende organisatie is het beroemde stuk van de Geus over Shell's scenarioplanning waar ik via LinkedIn weer eens op gewezen werd:

The Only Sustainable Advantage is to Learn Faster

Arie de Geus was an executive at Royal Dutch Shell for 38 years, most prominently as the head of the company’s Strategic Planning Group. While he was there, Shell became one of the largest companies in the world, partly though de Gues’s group’s innovations in what’s called scenario planning, a technique that helps business and organizations develop flexible long-term plans by trying to envision scenarios that might play out in the future. In one example of how this scenario planning works, de Geus and his team in the mid-1980s had some research that suggested that the price of oil, which was then $28 a barrel, might begin to decline, perhaps down to $15 a barrel (in these days of $100 a barrel crude, this seems quaint).

De Geus and his team then went out into the organization at Shell and challenged leaders and managers to imagine a world where the price of oil did fall to $15 a barrel, and game out how they would react to such a situation. When the price of oil did plummet all the way to $10 a barrel, the company had the advantage of having considered what to do in a way that some of its competition hadn’t. “The fact that Shell had already visited the world of $15 oil helped a great deal in that panicky spring of 1986,” wrote de Geus in his famous paper “Planning as Learning.”

The importance of learning to an organization to de Geus was summarized in a saying he liked, which was repeated to me by UK Sport research chief Scott Drawer. “The ability to learn faster than your competitors may be the only sustainable competitive advantage.”

Wat ik er interessant aan vind is dat scenarioplanning eigenlijk een alternatieve aanpak is voor hetzelfde probleem dat wij willen tackelen met social enterprise software: het leren omgaan met de onvoorspelbaarheid van de toekomst. Dat kun je doen door jezelf leniger te organiseren middels 'volgbaar lenig en lerend werken met social enterprise software', zoals wij voorstaan, of door mensen te trainen om vooraf - als je de rust hebt er eens goed over na te denken - mogelijke strategieën te definiëren voor (mogelijk nooit optredende) situaties. Wat ik mij afvraag: is de 'social enterprise manier' van snel schakelen nou eigenlijk de te prefereren manier, omdat je dan ook snel kunt schakelen bij scenario's die je niet overwogen had, of is de scenarioplanning nou effectiever omdat je mensen uberhaupt traint om leniger na te denken - zelfs over highly unexpectable cases?

https://faculty.washington.edu/socha/css572wint...