The Manoa Approach
designed by Dr. Wendy L. Schultz
hosted by the Hawaii Community Services Council
15 December 1993, 8:00 -- 11:30 AM
What do we each want
to get out of today's workshop?
Ruby [OSP]: Better understanding of scenario building for use
in strategic planning and in coordinated land use planning.
Scott [OSP]: More exposure
to the facilitation process, and to scenario building.
Bryan [OSP]: Get exposure to scenario facilitation to help deepen
my understanding of the emerging issues scanning process.
Kim [DHS]: More experience in moving from scanning to scenarios.
Bob [CFS]: What is scenario building? Discuss some applications.
Jay [State Parks/DLNR]: To think about how to move from the state
scanning project to a better, smarter, faster, more efficient and
effective use of scenarios.
Julie [UH/Public Health]: To learn more about the concept.
Banks [HCSC]: I helped
draft the Council's scanning document; I'd like to learn more about
scenario building as part of planning.
Karen [Elderly Care]: To explore how to build vision and alternative
futures accountability into planning.
Art [DOE]: Working on
school-community-based management, and want to devise a curriculum
for visioning planning.
MATERIALS AND TOOLS
Scenario building begins
with the recognition of change occurring in the environment around
us, and an identification of specific changes critical to our activities
and goals [defining the "we" is obviously very important; is this
scenario building focussed on a single individual's plans; on an
organization; on a community; on a business? what are the current
missions and goals of the "we" we've defined?].
monitor trends of change in the existing patterns of society and
the environment: is the percentage of elderly in the population
increasing or decreasing? Are more people living in apartments and
condominiums than in single-family structures? Is land use shifting
from food production to leisure activities? Are the populations
of native species in the local biosphere growing or dying back?
Emerging issues analyses
look for entirely new patterns of change: watershed shifts in values;
technological innovations and their impacts; re-inventions of the
basic ways things are defined, produced, or distributed; paradigm
shifts. Emerging issues are nascent trends: trends of change that
few people have yet noticed. Five years ago, the potential of cyberspace,
virtual reality, and the "information highway" was an emerging trend;
now it is on the cover of Time and Newsweek.
The basic materials
of scenario building are trends and emerging issues. The basic tools
of participatory scenario building are the techniques of group process
facilitation, particularly provoked brainstorming.
Facilitators are, first
and foremost, trafiic coordinators for communication. They make
sure that the conversational space is shared fairly by all participants.
Thus a good facilitator also models active listening: listening
to understand, not to criticize; listening positively, not as an
adversary; and asking open-ended questions for clarification. Exhibiting
a positive attitude and encouraging participation is also part of
active listening: listening with your eyes as well as your ears,
so you can spot the more reticent participants and encourage them
to offer their thoughts.
Facilitators serve to
protect individual participants and their ideas from attack. They
legitimate everyone's contributions to the workshop by ensuring
that ideas are captured accurately on the wallnotes. They also keep
the discussion on the path proposed by the agenda, and try to keep
the group on schedule. Good facilitation and recording result in
an orderly capture of people's ideas, in a way that everyone can
follow during the course of the workshop. Ideas can be revisited,
revised, expanded, or discarded.
Facilitators help participants
create a common, if synthetic, culture designed to encourage, support,
and free creativity. This culture is created when facilitators help
participants to establish the groundrules for the discussion. Two
categories of groundrules must be clearly defined: those the group
creates, and those the exercises require. Thus facilitators first
ask participants to state their expected outcomes for the meeting,
and then to suggest effective groundrules that mesh with, and support,
those expectations. Having participants create groundrules tailored
to their expectations creates the synthetic culture specific to
their workshop. The act of creating groundrules also helps
to crack some of the implicit mental constraints of organizational
or community culture with which the group may be initially hobbled.
Facilitators must also
review the brainstorming and futures groundrules specific to the
chosen exercises. These required groundrules reinforce the
synthetic culture by demanding new ways of thinking and communicating.
Furthermore, they offer rewards for pathbreaking behavior and sanctions
against backsliding into comfortable thinking habits -- e.g., critiquing
without creating first.
Almost every group contains
some obstreperous, cantankerous, rebellious, irreverent, or in some
other way difficult, people. It falls to the facilitator to smooth
out these burrs in the fabric of discussion. Basically, facilitators
do that by accepting, legitimizing, dealing with, or deferring.
That is, they accept the comment or idea without agreeing or disagreeing,
and legitimate it by making sure it gets entered into the group
memory. They then boomerang the comment, criticism, or question
back to the group as a whole, asking all the participants if they
want to deal with it immediately, or defer it until later.
The end result should
be a workshop in which everyone felt they had a fair chance to air
their thoughts, in which participants generated a lot of creative
energy and produced a lot of interesting and useful ideas, and in
which all of the ideas were captured on the group memory for later
use. To summarize, facilitators begin the meeting by reviewing expected
outcomes, the agenda, everyone's roles in the meeting, and the groundrules.
Explicit outcomes provide clear focus and direction; agreement on
the agenda gets everyone on board the process; establishing roles
and basic rules provides controls for the process; all four together
build group trust and confidence.
Why do we need the sort
of group trust that good facilitation builds? Because creative thinking
is risky. Good group process creates a temporary, synthetic culture
which offers participants safety and security for risky thinking.
It also offers techniques to combine, overlay, transform, and develop
individual products of creative thinking into community projects.
Brainstorming has a
very simple basic rule: don't judge. Simply lob ideas out as they
come to you. Let other people do the same. The facilitator's primary
job in a brainstorming session is to keep ideas flowing. This means,
first, acting as an enforcer of the groundrules that people agreed
upon at the beginning of the meeting. During brainstorming, the
facilitator politely but firmly squelches arguments, qualifications,
and even requests for elaborations -- those may be requested later,
when all the basic ideas have been recorded. It means reminding
people to offer only the idea, not all the corollary examples (this
slows down the flow of ideas, and limits other people's opportunities
by taking up airtime). Elaborations, examples, and even qualifications
may be added during a clarification and evaluation session after
is a peculiar and rarely practiced activity. A unique role that
futures facilitators must often play is the agent provocateur.
Whatever else we can say about the future, futurists often
say, we must say that it will be different. Thus the
only useful statements about the future are those that appear to
be ridiculous (this might be called Dator's Law of Practical
Futuristics...). Futures-focussed brainstorming problematizes the
present -- which for most of us is the ordinary. But in order to
think creatively about all the futures possible, we must challenge
the mundane within our own minds. Edward de Bono, who coined the
term "lateral thinking," suggests that we must provoke ourselves
to push our brains out of established patterns of perceiving, thinking,
problem-solving, and imagining. Lateral thinking -- his term for
what many of us think of as creativity -- flows across established
patterns, transforming them and creating new patterns.
Exercises that de Bono
suggests to provoke lateral thinking are challenge, exaggeration,
distortion, reversal, and wishful thinking.
Challenge basically refers to recapturing that childlike
innocence about why things happen the way they do: why do we all
drive cars to work? why do women shave their underarms, but men
don't? Exaggeration takes some idea, quality, or trend and
inflates it ad absurdum: washing and waxing your car once a week
prevents rusting and maintains the finish -- why not a self-washing
car that cleans itself immediately as needed? Distortion
asks participants to transmuste the familiar and render it unfamiliar:
housekeys truly become house keys -- musical signatures that define
your house's decor, unlock its computer functions, and combine with
your car keys, office keys, and RV keys to create your little signature
symphony. Reversal refers to restating an assumption, constraint,
or concept as its logical opposite: all dogs have fleas -- no dogs
have fleas (fleas become allergic to dogs? extinction of fleas as
a species?). Finally, wishful thinking also asks us
to recapture a childhood skill -- daydreaming -- by stating our
desires without letting the pragmatic adult mindset edit them into
nonexistence: all children on the planet receive three nutritious
meals a day.
Note that wishful thinking
is basically the cornerstone of visioning: creating an image or
scenario of a positive, preferred future. Because the goal of scenario
building is to create plausible images of alternative futures that
are neither good nor bad, let us set that form of provocation aside
for now. Thus the tools for provoked brainstorming that a facilitator
has are challenge, exaggeration, distortion,
and reversal. Of these, the easiest to accomplish is reversal,
because at base it is a simple exercise of logic and semantics.
Its implications can be very far-reaching, but it can also lead
to extremely idealistic statements and in fact is often used as
an entre to visioning. Challenge can lead to arguments and sidetrack
discussion unless the facilitator keeps the group very focussed;
distortion requires a Gary Larson Far Side mindset of participants
which can be a little tricky to evoke. Exaggeration is the basic
starting point for most scenario building, but if the opportunity
arises to make use of any of the others, then certainly seize the
- review outcomes/expectations
- review agenda
- create/explain groundrules
- review everyone's
some example groundrules:
- don't judge
- listen as an ally
- share the airtime
- ask the person next
to you for their idea
- be brief; be
bold; be seated
- risky ideas generated
here are safe in perpetuity -- no delayed judgments
- [ask the group what
rules they think would ensure a lively, fair, creative
- As a listener, don't
evaluate or criticize
- As a contributor,
be brief: state the idea succinctly for the recorder's sake
- As a contributor,
don't qualify, explain, or give examples -- save elaboration for
- As a contributor,
do build on other people's ideas, or connect several people's
a trend or pattern of change
- Challenge an
assumption about the present or the accepted way things are
- Distort the
normal or mundane; try combining two things never before combined
- Reverse constraints
and current operating conditions
THE BASIC PROCESS
* identify three
trends of change or emerging issues, e.g.,
- the graying of the
- increasing privatization
of government functions;
- increasing practicality/application
of genetic engineering.
* brainstorm the
impacts of each trend, one by one
Ideas should bounce
off each other rather quickly; when the storm begins to die down
after ten or fifteen minutes on each trend, move on to the next
* review the list
of impacts from all three trends for two or three minutes
Post the wallnotes from
all three trends where the whole group can see them.
* consider potential
collisions of trends; brainstorm their impacts for fifteen minutes
- how will they affect
- what new pattern
- what new opportunity/threat
* consider the entire
list; cluster groups of impacts of particular interest
* characterize your
- try to imagine two
or three headlines that sum up the tenor of its times
- think of a bumper-sticker
phrase that captures its essence
- if this were a short
story, what would be its title?
PROBES AND PROVOCATIONS
* Has your group
listed a wide range of impacts, covering different aspects of reality?
- arts & leisure:
- ecology & the
- media & communication;
- religion & myths;
use these as probes
during the brainstorming of impacts to broaden the field.
* has your group
freed themselves of normal patterns of thinking?
- have they exaggerated
the chosen trends to the point of absurdity?
- have they challenged
their assumptions about present conditions continuing?
- have they combined
trends or impacts in a way that distorts something familiar in
- have they reversed
constraints or threats that presently exist -- or reversed strengths
or opportunities they presently take for granted?
use these questions
as provocations during brainstorming to deepen the degree
of change imagined.
* what does this
draft scenario suggest for your current activities, goals, or mission
- can you succinctly
characterize your current activities and plans or mission?
- what patterns or
themes in the scenario most affect your goals or mission?
- does this scenario
offer you more opportunities, or more threats?
* can your group
see an emerging story in this scenario?
Try to set aside at
least ten minutes to evoke a vivid image of the future scenario
your group has constructed; if the process may run beyond the workshop,
appoint a volunteer to draft a narrative. The narrative should loosely
link the scenario to your present by discussing the emergence and
acceleration of the trends that formed your seeds of change; tracing
them into the future, the narrator may then let the scenario unfold.
Many of the brainstormed impacts will seem to contradict each other;
where possible, if they are related in some consistent fashion,
a few contradictions should be allowed to remain -- because our
present reality also contains contradictions.
EXAMPLE from the
SCENARIO BUILDING EXERCISE, 12/15/93
* the graying of
* increased cultural
* increased focus on
* increased inequity;
* shifts in global capital
and corporate control;
* privatization of
* "immersive" technologies;
* genetic engineering;
* personal satellite
* loss/degradation of
* loss of native species/alien
species invasion/fish catchery collapse, etc.;
* ozone depletion
Out of this list
of potential "building blocks" for their scenario exercise, participants
chose those trends highlighted.
the graying of the
* longer crossing lights
at intersections (more slowly walking old people); more and more
"disabled" -- more canes and walkers; more people with clout demanding
access/accessibility; more robotics at work and at home to enhance
independence of elderly; more health care needs; fewer elementary
schools; more active elderly workforce; larger and more retirement
communities; increase in production & sales of laxative and
incontinence products; more conservative politics; increased concern
for personal security; more employed caregivers; increase in tax
base, as elder generation pays more taxes -- owns more of the wealth.
of government services
* smaller government/fewer
services offered; erosion/replacement of national or state identity
as corporations and non-profits take over services; more efficient
government; private judges; increase in private non-profit organizations
offering/taking responsibility for some government functions; privatized
education, health care, defense, parks/open spaces, human services;
turf wars, private armies, private parks-- tendencies towards armed
enclaves; what happens to community -- maybe less control, maybe
more personal choice; government better be more accountable, develop
monitoring system for private supply of services; shift in how private
sector looks at profit -- a shift in emphasis to the service itself;
client relations, wellness of employees built into long-term profit
of genetic engineering
* manufactured longevity;
longer life WITH health; tomatoes with shelf life of a month; ethics
issues SQUARED >> increased international ethical conflict
due to conflicting cross-cultural values on genetic engineering
and access conflicts; more boys born; health services rationed;
potential catastrophes -- i.e., degradation of human gene pool;
religious backlash; ethnic wars; selective insurance coverage with
increased ability to spot disease; legal rights of bionic/synthetic
children; reproductive technology businesses
IMPACTS ACROSS TRENDS
the impact of an
increasingly "gray" population on the privatization of government
* decreased tax base
due to decreased population -- government must downsize; potential
increase in elderly impoverishment; increase in disparities and
inequity across the population as elderly hoard wealth, resources;
social safety nets dissolve -- greater intervention in behavior
of youth, decreased prevention of youth problems; increased attention
of the corporate world to elderly clientele as a market; increase
in secure communities; decrease in socialization, decrease in interaction
among social groups; increase in enclave, clan, subculture mentality;
rebirth of cultural identities; decrease in youth services and education
the impact of an
increasingly "gray" population on the practicality/application of
* social weeding; rescinding
reproductive rights for some; seniors have babies; institutionalized
child rearing >> TV and robotic child rearing; legislation
and economic control of genetic engineering by seniors
the impact of privatization
of government services on the practicality/application of genetic
* sell good gene stock
-- stockpile, gene cartels, gene futures; clone human spare parts;
create own workforce or constituency; create consumer demand by
genetic manipulation; create non-human organisms just for one function;
promote particular gene pools (eugenics)
RESULTS OF PROBES
TO BROADEN SCENARIO SCOPE
- enclaves; more
- more products
& services >> more designed for the elderly
- breakdown of
representative system >> direct democracy
- no mandatory
retirement; a covenant between employer and employee for lifetime
supply of services
- ARTS & LEISURE
- more golf courses;
more passive recreation; more elder hostels; increased interest
in arts and crafts; more active recreation for elders; more
subcultures represented -- fewer common pursuits; increased
gambling revenues for cities; difference between boomers and
generation X regarding electronic forms of leisure
- heightened social
consciousness re: the environment; focus on maintaining environmental
heritage delegated to privatized conservation efforts
- more electronic
networks geared to old people
- networks of elderly
taking trips together (organized over electronic nets; focus
on ecotourism, learning local cultures/ethnic crafts, etc.);
more demand for customized, small transport services
- increased demand
for lifelong learning; more intergenerational mentoring
- resurgence of
interest in religion as people search for meaning; heightened
ethical conflict; more cults; niche religions more socially
active; religions offer more services to members
- a redefinition
of the family: much more extended (physically) across several
generations and several gene crosses; bigger houses because
more generations living together; more options for privatizing
family responsibilities; more family lawyers because of increased
numbers of inheritance questions; redistribution of wealth
- increased competition
for habitat as we create new organisms, new species of humanity,