Scenarios for San Leandro

On June 1st of this year, 28 people in San Leandro, California gathered for an adventure in looking into our future. The result of that day, plus some ongoing thinking and analysis by a small, dedicated group of authors, produced our report: Scenarios for San Leandro: Stories About Our Future. Continue reading

Scenario Planning: The Telling of Stories

earthquake-damaged house

Damaged House by martinluff

People have told stories for as far back as we know. It’s how we learn. Stories may be told to us by others, or co-created by a group, or made up by one person to make sense of something. Stories help us understand.

Scenario planning uses stories for this reason. Once we’ve identified a couple of forces that define our “axes,” we can imagine what the circumstances and environment is like under those conditions. In our exercise (described in prior posts), we chose to work with two quadrants (story settings):

  1. Basic needs NOT met, communications working
  2. Basic needs NOT met, communications NOT working

Let’s look at these situations and what they tell us about our stories. Continue reading

Scenario Planning: Defining Moments

part of the impact-certainty gridWe went through the process of identifying our concerns. We listed the forces at work in our scenarios: basic needs, medical care, communications, energy, etc. Those forces were placed in a grid according to our perceptions about how big an impact those forces will have on life, and how uncertain they are to be stable, continue, or affect recovery work.

Next we identified, by visual cues, what was important for us to consider: basic needs and communications. This wasn’t too surprising–it was a high-tech-centric group of people that wanted to understand what this exercise was about. One thing that it was about: challenging their comfort zones. This was a challenge.

We drew our two X-Y axes: basic needs (met or not met) vs communications (working vs not working). Note that working communications implies some level of a working power grid as well. Given the level of devastation likely in a post-quakes world (where there are several “big ones” on a 9+ or 10+ scale), this is seriously unlikely. Nevertheless, we play on. Two of our four story areas were: Continue reading

Scenario Planning: The Set-Up

Scenarios are a way to look into the future. They are not predictive as much as they are a tool to increase your familiarity with the potential problems and opportunities that we don’t see right now. To do this, we generally start with a particular aspect of a larger decision that’s on our plate. For example, maybe we want to make a large purchase like a vehicle, but need to decide (have some uncertainty about) whether we want a sports car or a motorcycle. What are the elements or characteristics of this decision that are least or most certain, and will have the least or most impact on your decision? Continue reading