In 1991 South Africa was about to undertake one of the most successful transitions to democracy in history. But for Nelson Mandela and outgoing president FW de Klerk, the future was anything but certain.
Predictions of social conflict and forecasts of economic doom stoked divisive tensions. What they needed was a different way of thinking about the future. They turned to scenario planning.
It’s a long way from Cape Town to Coventry, and from post-apartheid social upheavals to the Covid-19 crisis in the UK. But at times of extraordinary change and uncertainty, what’s needed is a way to check our assumptions and allow ourselves to imagine that radically different futures are possible and plausible.
Scenario planning is one such approach, and so last month we adapted existing methodologies to run an exercise asking how councils can meet the needs of their local communities over the next 12 months.