One of the great strengths of our College has been the ability to continually reflect on our practice and take steps to reflect and improve. Throughout 2016, College Council and the Executive team spent time working on our next strategic plan. However, we undertook a different process commonly referred to as Scenario Building. Essentially, this is a process that begins by interviewing experts in their field on where they believe the future is heading. Scenario Building is a proven discipline that helps organisations successfully anticipate and prepare for changes beyond their control. Scenario building consists of crafting a set of internally consistent and imagined futures (experienced as stories or narratives) in which decisions about the future can be played out for the purpose of changing thinking, improving decision-making, fostering learning, and improving performance.
Ultimately, the point of scenario building is not to write stories about the future, but to arrive at a deeper understanding of the world in which an organisation exists, and to use that understanding to inform decisions about future strategy. Using the terminology performance-based scenario building also forces a conversation about outcomes. This means there will be a way of determining whether the scenario building project has produced any benefits.
Scenario building is part of the strategic planning and development process. It involves learning to see the future in different ways and using these futures as a context for doing things differently today. Rather than learning from the past, scenario-building involves learning from the future. Most importantly, scenario building is NOT about predicting the future, but about preparing for the future. That distinction is critical to understanding the purpose of what we are about to embark on.
Scenario building is a process through which scenarios are developed and then used to inform strategy. In that sense, scenario building is really a precursor to strategy development but differences need to be noted. Three guiding principles underpin scenario building:
- The long view – we need to look beyond immediate short term concerns and peer far enough into the future to see new possibilities and ask ‘What if?’
- Outside-in thinking – most people are surprised by discontinuous events because they spend the majority of their time thinking about what they are most familiar with, i.e. their own field or organisation, however thinking from outside-in forces us to ponder external changes that might profoundly affect our work, our future direction and, ultimately, our organisation’s purpose
- Multiple perspectives – it is all too easy to ignore voices you may not agree with, but diverse voices and opinions help shed light on your strategic challenges and cause you to question your assumptions about the future
At St Andrew’s we weren’t keen to focus on education, rather let the key areas of Religion, Environment, Social, Political, Economic and Technology drive the conversations.
We are very excited to launch our new plan with the College, which fits under our strategic intent and core values. We have developed five key domains around which we wish to focus in the coming years and I look forward to unpacking these with our community in the weeks and months ahead.
Click here to view a simple A4 overview of our existing values, our 5 new domains and the areas of focus under each of these. I look forward to sharing with parents on Monday evening at our Conversations with the Principal gathering.
Reverend Chris Ivey