Curtis+Cartwright: futures

An issue facing many organisations today is how to set long-term strategic direction in the face of uncertainties arising from a rapidly changing business and technological landscape. Curtis+Cartwright is expert in helping organisations make these difficult planning decisions. In particular, we are adept at using the powerful 'futures' methods of scenario planning and environmental scanning.

Scenario planning is a way of systematically dealing with uncertainty to inform long-term strategic decisions. Possible uses of the scenarios are developing new strategies, assessing existing strategies for robustness, looking for early indicators of change, providing a long-term strategic planning focus and avoiding complacency by giving people the tools to think constructively about a range of possible futures.

Environmental scanning helps provide inputs to this process by systematically investigating new or emerging developments that will challenge the status quo. A Political, Economical, Technological, Societal, Legal and Environmental (PESTLE) analysis is helpful in providing structure to this.

Case study: Academic libraries

We developed three scenarios which describe possible futures for teaching and research libraries in the UK through an extensive series of workshops with stakeholders (librarians, institutional managers, funders, service providers, publishers and government). They take the economic, social and other pressures faced by the world today based on a detailed environmental scan and create futures in which Higher Education and libraries have evolved in different directions. They describe a world some distance away in the future, in our case 2050. The scenarios will help institutions and other organisations look at the challenges faced from a fresh perspective and help them formulate strategies to ensure the sector continues to be a leading global force. The project website describes the scenarios and how to use them for strategic planning.

Our work

Key factors in successful futures work are: domain knowledge; a detached world view; lateral thinking; broad knowledge and understanding of technological and business trends. These criteria are often best met by an experienced futures consultant working closely with your team. The consultant's role is usually one or more of mentor, facilitator or strategy leader. Our background and experience means that we are ideally suited to such work. Means of delivery include, for example:

If you think we might be of help, please contact Geoff Curtis; he will be pleased to tell you more about our services and talk through your needs.