Scenario Planning — A 20-Year Outlook

PharmaFutures 1 chose to use scenarios as the tool to identify existing trends that, moving on their current course or departing significantly from them, will change the shape of the global pharmaceutical industry between 2004 and 2015.

PharmaFutures 1 contracted professional scenario planners, Global Business Network (GBN) to run the scenario planning process. GBN — a subsidiary of Monitor Group — is a unique membership organization that helps Fortune 100 companies, governments and non-profit organizations explore, anticipate and shape the future in ways that support their broad goals. GBN has long experience in guiding organizations wisely and creatively through changing operational environments of this sort.

GBN provided the following context for scenario planning work in the run up to PharmaFutures 1:

“In recent years strategic planning has undergone a shift from the use of single-point forecasts toward the use of alternative scenarios. In the decade after World War II the global economy grew in a fairly orderly and reliable way. Plans could be made using extrapolations from the past and present. Since the 1960s, however, the global environment has been more turbulent.

From the oil shocks of the ’70s through the demise of communism in the ’80s to the deregulation and privatization of many industries in the ’90s to the rise of global terrorism at the turn of the millennium, the future has become progressively less predictable. The methodology known as scenario planning grew in response to these circumstances and continues to grow in use. Alternative scenarios provide a way of focusing on the future without locking in on any one forecast or “assumed official future” — both of which are likely to be wrong.

“Scenarios are alternative environments in which today’s decisions may be played out. They are not predictions, nor are they strategies. Instead, they are descriptions of different possible futures designed to highlight the risks and opportunities inherent in each one. Scenarios can help overcome anxiety about the lack of hard data regarding the future. They help decision makers explore and understand more deeply a number of different possibilities to make better reasoned choices among them”.


The structured, two-way communication enabled by PharmaFutures helps to improve levels of trust, understanding and a greater alignment of interest between investors and pharmaceutical executives.

Daniel Summerfield, USS