Article Information

Chris A. Geldenhuys1
Theo H. Veldsman1

1Department of Industrial Psychology and People Management, University of Johannesburg, South Africa

Correspondence to:
Theo Veldsman


Postal address:
PO Box 524, Auckland Park 2006, South Africa

Received: 08 Oct. 2009
Accepted: 23 Sept. 2010
Published: 23 Feb. 2011

How to cite this article:
Geldenhuys, C.A., & Veldsman, T.H. (2011). A change navigation-based, scenario planning process within a developing world context from an Afro-centric leadership perspective. SA Journal of Human Resource Management/ SA Tydskrif vir Menslikehulpbronbestuur, 9(1), Art. #265, 17 pages. doi:10.4102/sajhrm.v9i1.265

Copyright Notice:
© 2011. The Authors. Licensee: OpenJournals Publishing. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License.

ISSN: 1683-7584 (print)
ISSN: 2071-078X (online)

A change navigation-based, scenario planning process within a developing world context from an Afro-centric leadership perspective
In This Original Research...
Open Access
Motivation and problem statement for the research
Research design
   • Research approach
   • Research process
   • Evaluation criteria
Research Process Stage 1: A multidisciplinary literature review
   • Complexity theory
   • Organisational storytelling and stories
   • Scenario-based planning and scenarios
   • Organisational change navigation
   • Developing country
   • Afro-centric leadership
Research process stage 2: Insights gained from practice views solicited from seasoned scenario planning practioners
Research process stage 3: The proposed CNBSPP as based on the literature review and practioners initial views
Research process stage 4: Seasoned practioners views on the proposed CNBSPP stages or steps
   • The empirical validation of CNBSPP
   • Steps included in a change navigation based, scenario planning process
   • Unique factors strongly influencing scenariobased planning in a developing country context from an Afro-centric leadership perspective
Research process stage 5: The finalised change navigation-based, scenario planning process
   • Conclusion

Orientation: In the hyper turbulent context faced currently by organisations, more flexible strategic planning approaches, such as scenario planning which take into account a more comprehensive range of possible futures for an organisation, will position organisations better than conventional forecast and estimates that depend only on a single, linearly extrapolated, strategic response. Research purpose: This study aimed to investigate how scenario-based planning (a strictly cognitive management tool) can be combined with organisational change navigation (a practice addressing the emotionality of change) and how this integrated process should be aligned with the prerequisites imposed by a developing country context and an Afro-centric leadership perspective in order to make the process more context relevant and aligned.

Motivation for the study: The integration of organisational change navigation with conventional scenario based planning, as well as the incorporation of the perquisites of a developing countries and an Afro-centric leadership perspective, will give organisations a more robust, holistic strategic management tool that will add significantly more value within a rapidly, radically and unpredictably changing world.

Research design, approach and method: The adopted research approach comprised a combination of the sourcing of the latest thinking in the literature (the ‘theory’) as well as the views of seasoned practitioners of scenario planning (the ‘practice’) through an iterative research process, moving between theory and practice, back to practice and finally returning to theory in order to arrive at a validated expanded and enhanced scenario-based planning process which is both theory and practice ‘proof’.

Main findings: A management tool incorporating the change navigation and the unique features of developing countries and Afro-centric leadership was formulated and empirically validated. This management tool is referred to as a change navigation based, scenario planning process (CNBSPP).

Practical/managerial implications: CNBSPP is available for use by organisations wishing to apply a strategic planning tool that fits within a developing country context and an Afro-centric leadership approach.

Contribution/value add: The research makes a unique contribution to the current level of knowledge by integrating two disciplines usually practised independently of one another, namely scenario-based planning and organisational change navigation. It also embedded the process into a different context of application, that is, the developed world as viewed from an Afro-centric leadership perspective.


The speed, scope and complexity of discontinuous change have increased dramatically in the last 20 years (Blickle & Witzki, 2008; Legrain, 2010; Meyer & Boninelli, 2004; Van Tonder, 2004; Veldsman, 2002; 2008). Deciding whether or not to change is a luxury ill afforded by organisations. These turbulent and radically changing circumstances faced by organisations are rendering existing approaches to organisational success less effective, or even obsolete. However, many leaders still are still driving their organisations into the future whilst metaphorically looking into a rear-view mirror of approaches that may have worked well in the past but may no longer be fit for purpose (Veldsman, 2002; Weeks, 1990).

One example of a management tool (or methodology) that may be in need of rethinking is strategic planning (Veldsman, 2007) with ‘management tool’ referring to a formalised process of doing things in an organisation. Mintzberg (1994) is even of the view that strategic planning is an outdated and non-value adding management tool. In contrast, Veldsman (2007) argues that strategy crafting has a place but needs to be re-invented for a newly emerging world order. The assumptions underlying the conventional strategic planning paradigm state that organisations are like intricate, mechanical clockworks operating in a setting that can be determined, objectively assessed and predicted by experts, the so-called Newtonian world view. However, it can be argued that in the hyper turbulent context faced currently by organisations, requiring a complexity chaos view of reality, more flexible strategic planning approaches such as scenario planning which take into account a more comprehensive range of possible future scenarios, will position organisations better than conventional forecast efforts that depend only on a single, linearly extrapolated, strategic response (Steil & Gibbons-Carr, 2005; Veldsman, 2002).

Scenario-based planning allows emerging signals of change to be detected much earlier than conventional strategic planning. In addition, multiple perspectives on complex events, knowledge and experience can be woven into coherent, systematic and plausible stories to construct possible futures (April, 1999; Bood & Postma, 1998; Steil & Gibbons-Carr, 2005). The generation of future based thinking frameworks through scenario planning by means of which mental models, assumptions and key decisions can be wind tunnelled for their robustness, serves as a continuous learning tool in this way giving organisations and its leadership a more sustainable competitive edge (Nell, 1999). It therefore appears reasonable to assume that an appropriately designed, scenario-based planning process as a management tool seems more in tune with the current and future expected context characterised by profound, ongoing and unpredictable change.

Within a globalising world with disappearing boundaries (the so-called emergent post-modern world), the further question of particular importance is the validity of management tools developed in and for use in essentially an Anglo-Saxon context, such as scenario planning, indiscriminately applied in different contexts (e.g., developing countries or different industries). This question becomes even more pressing if the debate of the relevancy of a Western versus Afro-centric leadership across the divide of developed versus developing countries (or called emerging economies in some quarters) is also introduced into this contextual validity debate (Mangaliso & Damane, 2001; Mbigi, 1997; 2000; 2005).

The random migration of developed world strategic management tools, such as scenario-based planning, from one context to another without testing for contextual validity could be a high risk event (Parker and Veldsman, 2010; Veldsman, 2002). For example, Parker and Veldsman (2010) have empirically shown that the criteria for world class organisations differ across developed and developing countries. If leaders practising Afro-centric leadership are to be truly successful, they need to find ways of balancing the intelligent copying and borrowing of ideas, values, methodologies, tools and practices from the rest of the world (i.e. other cultures such eastern culture) with the need to anchor themselves and their organisations in their own cultural roots (Mbigi, 2005).

Motivation and problem statement for the research

Scenario-based planning serves to create stories about future expected realities (see the discussion regarding scenario-based planning and scenarios below). Scenario-based planning thus is a form of organisational story telling (Van der Heijden, 2005). However, it does not explicitly address how the intended change needs to be navigated whilst moving from the current state to the future desired state (see the discussion on organisational change navigation below) as expressed in these stories about the future. Scenario-based planning is a cognitive (or rational) way of doing strategic planning based on the mutual, intellectual understanding between participants in the process (De Geus, 1988; Hodgkinson & Healy, 2009; Van der Heijden, 2005). In contrast, organisational change navigation tends to be more of an emotional process requiring shared acceptance, buy-in and commitment by diverse stakeholders to the desired future state and the willingness to undertake the change journey into the future to realise the desired future state.

In other words, scenario-based planning allows one to see the future world in different plausible ways (i.e. the stories) but it does not address how the change implied by these stories affects people emotionally. Neither is the necessary support and commitment required of them to these different future stories and the changes required by these stories, addressed. Put slightly differently, as it currently stands traditional scenario-based planning process as a cognitive process does not take into account the principles embodied in organisational change navigation as the process addressing people’s emotional response, as well as the building of the needed buy-in and ownership to the intended change. A rare exception in this regard is the combination of large group change processes with conventional scenario planning by Steil and Gibbons-Carr (2005).

Although the practices of scenario-based planning and organisational change navigation may be based on elements of several theories from strategic management and behavioural sciences, there is thus no single all-encompassing, integrated process fusing scenario-based planning and organisational change navigation in a seamless manner. If such an integrated process could be designed, change navigation would complement the rationality of scenario planning with the emotionality of people buying into and taking ownership of the outcomes of scenario planning. Inclusion of the steering of change as an inherent, core component of scenario-based planning would strengthen and enhance the value and impact of traditional scenario-based planning, especially under conditions of rapid, radical and unpredictable change. An integrated change navigation-based scenario-based planning process would give an organisation a strengthened and more robust management tool to build and sustain a sustainable competitive advantage in a changing world which requires as essential precondition high levels of buy-in and ownership by all stakeholders.

As yet scenario-based planning as an Anglo-Saxon generated management tool has not been fully deconstructed to lay bare explicitly the validity of its premises and requirements in applying this tool in a developing world context from an Afro-centric leadership frame of reference and approach (Meyer & Boninelli, 2004). At face value it appears that a strong difference may exist between the underlying business assumptions and modes within a developed world versus those required by a developing world per se, with the added on possible difference because of adopting an Afro-centric leadership mode. Theorising about and the application of developing world leadership will not be advanced by uncritically accepting that which prevails in the developed world is also of necessity equally applicable to the developing world (Bernstein, 2010; Blunt & Jones, 1996; Booysen, 2001; 2009). The need for this explicit critical reflection is important because it would appear that the underlying principles of management in a developing world per se, but more particularly leadership from an Afro -centric leadership perspective, are quite different from those in the West due to cultural differences influencing individual expectations and assumptions about management (Blunt & Jones, 1996; Mbigi, 1997; 2000; 2005; Meyer & Boninelli, 2004; Nzelibe, 1986).

At issue therefore is whether a meaningful and real difference exists between Western leadership and Afro-centric leadership when applying management tools such as scenario-based planning. The effective adoption of a mainly Western business and management tools in developing countries, such as scenario-based planning, calls for an indigenous cultural renaissance of management practices within and a creative alignment with developing worlds’ uniqueness, whatever it may be (Mbigi, 2000). In fact, hypothesising about possible differences is superfluous. The differences between Anglo-Saxon (or Western) and Afro-centric leadership have actually been empirically confirmed (Booysen, 2001; 2009). The more appropriate question is therefore not whether there are differences but how these differences impact on, and need to be incorporated into, scenario-based planning.

Given the motivation, the problem statement informing the study is therefore:

• How can scenario-based planning (a strictly cognitive management tool) be combined with organisational change navigation (a practice addressing the emotionality of change) to give an organisation a more robust, holistic management tool that adds significantly more value?

• How must this integrated process be aligned with the prerequisites imposed by a developing world context and an Afro-centric leadership perspective in order to make the process more context relevant and aligned?

Research design

Research approach
The adopted research approach was a combination of the sourcing of:

• the latest thinking in terms of the concepts covered in the literature (the ‘theory’)
• the views of seasoned practitioners of scenario planning (the ‘practice’)

through an iterative research process moving between theory and practice, back to practice and finally back to theory in order to arrive at a validated change navigation based, scenario planning process (CNBSPP) that is both theory and practice ‘proof’. Hodgkinson and Healy (2009) adopted a similar two-way, iterative theory-practise research approach when investigating the role of the personality of team members of planning teams with respect to scenario planning (for a similar research approach see Steynberg‘s (2006) research into people integration during mergers and acquisitions).

Research process
Figure 1 shows diagrammatically the five stages of the research process followed in this study. The process to develop and empirically validate the proposed CNBSPP comprised nine steps. Some steps were executed simultaneously and others consecutively.

As indicated in Figure 1, the research process commenced with a multi-disciplinary literature review and synthesis (Stage 1: Steps 1–5). Simultaneously twelve seasoned practitioners of scenario-based planning were asked to provide their expert views on scenario-based planning with its commensurate steps, as well as their views on the factors significantly influencing scenario-based planning within a developing world context from an Afro-centric leadership perspective (Stage 2: Step 6). Based on the preceding stages, an initial CNBSPP was developed (Stage 3: Step 7). The proposed CNBSPP was validated empirically by requesting the very same practitioners to assess the proposed process (Stage 4: Stage 8). Lastly, the results of the empirical validation were interpreted by comparing the finalised CNBSPP against the literature review and practice validation (Stage 5: Step 9).

FIGURE 1: Schematic illustration of the five stage research process followed in this study.

Evaluation criteria
Evaluation design criteria were set up front for the to-be-developed process based CNBSPP to be used during its development and by the practitioners to assess CNBSPP as management tool. These criteria were:

simplicity: the process must be plain, simple and straightforward
comprehensiveness: the process must embrace the full set of activities or steps included in the planning cycle
practicality: the process must make sense from a practice point of view
relevancy to context: the process must match the context in which it is to be applied
transparency: the process must be open to public scrutiny
cost-effectiveness: the process must deliver a service at an equal or lower cost than current practice
robustness: the process must be relatively stable with a minimum of variation in the face of changing circumstances
flexibility: the process must be adaptable to changing circumstances
involvement: the process must allow for a high level of engagement by participants
completeness: the process must include all the necessary steps to construct scenarios and navigate change properly
reliability: following the process steps suggested, the process must yield consistent and dependable results
validity: on the face of it, the process must be able to do the work for which it was built.

Research Process Stage 1: A multidisciplinary literature review

The multidisciplinary literature review represents ‘Stage 1: Steps 1–5’ of the research process outlined in Figure 1. From the introduction and the stated research purpose, it should be clear that the key concepts informing this study (and having a bearing on the to-be-proposed CNBSPP within a developing country context from an Afro-centric leadership perspective) are:

• organisational storytelling and stories
• scenario-based planning and scenarios
• organisational change navigation
• developing countries
• Afro-centric leadership.

Complexity theory as a key concept is also included because this theory has in recent times emerged as a more appropriate theory to understand and interpret reality, also organisational reality, with all the preceding concepts being embedded in a theory of reality. Each concept is discussed in turn, starting with complexity theory.

Complexity theory
Complexity theory entails the nature, make-up and dynamics of reality (Kurtz & Snowden, 2003; Lewis, 2004; Stacey, 1995; 1996; Veldsman, 2002; Wheatley, 2006). In contrast to a Newtonian, mechanistic or Cybernetic input-throughput-output-feedback view of reality, complexity theory postulates that reality has the following features:

• Reality consists of patterns that emerge through the interaction of multiple, interconnecting components or agents. That is, reality is self-organising and forms complex adaptive system(s) (Kurtz & Snowden, 2003; Lewis, 2004; Stacey, 1995; 1996; Veldsman, 2002).

• The relationships and interactions between components, and the patterns that emerge from the former, are the organising principle of reality (Lewis, 2004; Veldsman, 2002; Wheatley, 2006).

• The components interact with each other according to a few simple sets of lawful ‘order-generating or guiding rules’ or schematas (Stacey, 1995; 1996; Wheatley, 2006).

• The patterns emerging from the relationships and interactions (which bring order into the chaos) form cycles of functioning which can either be virtuous or vicious (Veldsman, 2002). Different types of chaos and order may be distinguished (Kurtz & Snowden, 2003).

• The patterned interaction of components affects and reinforces individual behaviour and thus the behaviour of the overall system of which the components form part, through nonlinear feedback loops (Stacey, 1995; 1996; Wheatley, 2006). Non-linearity implies many possible options.

• Current changes have a rippling effect on future events or activities, and hence the pattern that will emerge (Lewis, 2004).

The implication of complexity theory as theory of reality for the intended CNBSPP is that the scenarios to be built must have the nature of interconnected pictures or patterns of a self-organising reality that emerges through the relationships and interactions of many components based on a few simple guiding rules. Scenario-based planning as a process must also take on a more organic, systemic nature in its execution. Change navigation as the means to obtain buy-in and ownership before and during the change journey implied by the future referenced stories produced by scenario planning, must also be informed by these features of complexity theory and (in the same vein as scenario-based planning based on complexity theory) take on a systemic, organic nature as a process.

Organisational storytelling and stories
At the most basic level conversations (or dialogue) refer to what is being said and listened to between people (Berger & Luckman, 1966). The word ‘dialogue’ stems from two Greek roots, ‘dia’ and ‘logos’, jointly suggesting the meaning of ‘meaning flowing through’. Dialogue stands in stark contrast to the word ‘debate’ or even ‘discussion’, meaning in Greek ‘to break things up’ (April, 1999). As people gather to dialogue they commit to (April, 1999; Gerard & Teurfs, 1997):

• listening and speaking without judgement
• acknowledging each speaker
• suspending role and status differentials
• respecting differences arising out of underlying belief systems, assumptions and experiences
• realising the need for specific shared, commonly agreed upon outcomes
• balancing inquiry, reflection and advocacy
• avoiding cross talk and hidden agendas
• focusing on shared, ongoing learning.

It can be argued that organisations are essentially networks of interpersonal interconnections based on conversations as expressed through stories (Berquist, 1993; Christie, 2009; Ratcliffe, 2002). Stories are naturally occurring phenomena through which information, shared experiences, expectations and culture are passed on within organisations (Broodryk, 2005; Christie, 2009; Ratcliffe, 2002; Rubel, 2000). A story as a form of type of conversation is capable of representing and transferring a complex, multi-dimensional organisational reality to a listener in a simple and effortless way (Allen, Fairtlough & Heinzen, 2002). Stories add a psychological dimension to organisational life. This implies a feeling and experiencing dimension in the form of sense making, meaning giving, as well emotional attachment and involvement that rational, empirical data lack (Rubel, 2000).

Storytelling serves multiple purposes (cf. Brown, 1990; Christie, 2009; Martin, 1982; McConkie, 1980; McConkie & Boss, 1986; Wilkens, 1983):

• sense making
• the substantiation of asserted states of affaires
• the conveyance of unwritten rules
• social bonding
• the triggering and affecting of change
• the expression and transfer of values
• the verbal codification of the organisational history and memory.

Scenario-based planning (with its intended outcome of scenarios) is nothing other than systematic conversations about expected futures for an organisation, producing stories about those futures in order to prepare the organisation pro-actively for those futures.

In African indigenous cultures, against the backdrop of a developing world context, storytelling is raised to an edifying art. Persons are awarded status and esteem in their communities terms of their capability to tell stories. Traditional African societies transmit their values, ethics and spiritual beliefs through folklore, songs, praise, poetry, dances, prayer and storytelling. Leadership is an oral art in Africa since the indigenous cultures are oral cultures. Therefore, storytelling becomes a key skill in leadership practice and indigenous African teaching methods (Broodryk, 2005; Mbigi, 2005).

Scenario-based planning and organisational change navigation are about conversations (or dialogue) and stories in an organisational setting. When CNBSPP is applied as planning tool embedded in an institutionalised, organisational storytelling process, only then will one may see the emergence of consensus, the shared focus necessary for joint action and high levels of emotional energy and excitement infusing the process. Framing scenario-based planning as organisational storytelling, particularly in a developing country context where a strong verbal tradition exists, the intended CNBSPP must allow for the opportunity for information, shared experiences and expectations to be passed on in the form of folklore, songs, praise poetry, dances, silent rituals, ceremonies, prayer and storytelling. Participants must be able to tell illustrative stories to encourage commitment, generate belief, create understanding, build ownership, reduce people’s resistance to change and allow them to interpret and understand events that may otherwise be chaotic.

Scenario-based planning and scenarios
Scenario-based planning has enjoyed a long history of over 30 years originating in the military (with Herman Kahn as proponent) and later in business (Pierre Wack, originally at Shell, as a prime example) and government (Klinec, 2004; Van der Heijden, 2005).

Scenario-based planning, in contrast to estimates and forecasts, can be described as ‘a tool for ordering one’s perceptions about alternative future environments in which one’s decisions might be played out’ (Schwartz, 1996, p 4). Scenario-based planning ‘involves developing future environment situations and describing the path from any given present situation to these future situations’ (Ratcliffe, 2000, p 129). Scenario-based planning attempts to set up a logical and plausible sequence of high risk and uncertain events in order to show how a future state may evolve step-by-step (Ilbury & Sunter, 2005; More, 2003). Estimates rely on an assessment of current conditions to identify possible future events. Forecasts rely primarily on trends based analysis and represent long range assessments in order to arrive at a single accurate, predictive picture of the future.

Scenarios pertain to a set of stylised narratives connecting a series of interrelated events about alternative futures. They describe not only the future end-state, but also what path the present will take to progress to that point. They are grammatical and contextual, rather than strictly numerical or statistical. They are used to arrange both facts and perceptions about the future in such a manner so as to give order and meaning to future expected events (David, 1987; Klinec, 2004; Nell, 1999; Ritson, 1997; Schnaars, 2001; Schwartz, 1996; Weeks, 1990; Wright, 2005; Zentner, 1982).

Scenario-based planning comprises a number of basic steps (Daum, 2001; IBM Advanced Business Institute, 2002; Ratcliffe, 2000; Saunders & Harris, 2000), including:

• setting the scenario-based planning agenda
• determining the focal question
• identifying and ranking the key global and local factors
• selecting the scenario logics
• fleshing out the scenarios
• analysing the implications of the scenarios for the organisation
• reviewing (or developing) existing and new strategies based on the evolving scenarios
• selecting leading indicators (or signposts) to monitor the implementation of scenarios or strategies and to alert one about unfolding scenarios
• maintaining ongoing organisational learning.

A successful scenario-based planning process with scenarios as its outcome requires extensive strategic conversations (or story telling) throughout the entire organisation. Some of the more important principles required to ensure effective scenario-based planning are (Courtney, 2003; Ratcliffe, 2002):

• a recognition of the uncertainty and complexity of the context
• a high degree of organisational learning
• a simple, credible, reflective and inclusive process
• sufficient time to develop scenarios
• holistic, systemic thinking
• top management involvement
• diverse internal and external inputs
• extensive, inclusive participation
• having a sense of fun and enjoyment
• internally consistent and coherent scenarios
• replication of the process and scenarios to ensure continuing relevance
• the tracking and monitoring of scenario realisation.

The ultimate benefit for an organisation is a pro-active preparedness for and anticipation to deal with the future to be faced by the organisation whatever form it may take. An organisation can modify its strategic direction and priorities more rapidly as actual events unfold in a more informed, thoroughly thought through and innovative manner (Schnaars, 2001; Van der Heijden, 2005).

Scenario-based planning and scenarios in the to-be-proposed CNBSPP must arrange both facts, premises and intuitions about the future in such a manner that gives order, coherence and meaning to the events, trends and trend breaks to be explored, discovered and crafted into future referenced stories. As can be seen, from the review of the scenario-based planning literature however, no reference is made to or consideration is given to the importance of either change navigation to obtain buy-in and ownership of the change implied by the scenarios and the undertaking of the change journey to realise the most likely scenario. Currently the context (developed versus developing country) and/or the most appropriate leadership assumptions (Western versus Afro centric) to ensure successful scenario-based planning are not part of the body of knowledge regarding scenario-based planning. The intended CNBSPP aims to close these gaps.

Organisational change navigation
Organisational change as an outcome can be defined as affecting a lasting change in the character, functioning and/or dynamics of an organisation that significantly alters its performance and even success (Mohrman, Mohrman, Ledford, Cummings, & Lawler, 1989; Van Tonder, 2004; Veldsman, 2002). Applied to scenario-based planning, organisational change refers to changing the organisation to perform successfully within different possible futures.

Change as a process refers to the difference in the state of the organisation at two separate locations (or points) in time and/or space. The earlier location refers to the ‘what is’ state of the organisation whilst the latter location refers to its ‘what should or must be’ state. ‘State’ refers to the mode of existence and functioning of the organisation. The ‘what is’ state is real. In contrast, the ‘what should or must be’ state exists only in the thoughts, wishes and words of those who visualise this state, for example, the future referenced stories contained in the scenarios. Change encompasses the conversion of the ‘what is’ state into the ‘what should or must be’ state. The conversion refers to the ‘in between state’ (or the void) whilst moving the organisation from its current state to its future state. Organisational change navigation actions serve to defuse the people dynamics and tensions arising from the difference between the presence of the two states in the organisation and how to navigate the ‘in between’ state people wise successfully (Beckhard & Harris, 1987; Burke, 1987; Kotter, 1996; Veldsman, 2002).

Organisational change navigation consists of the following basic steps (Burke, 1987: Kotter, 1996; Nadler & Nadler, 1998; Van Tonder, 2004; Van Tonder & Roodt, 2008; Veldsman, 2002), including:

• mobilising dissatisfaction with the status quo
• shaping a guiding coalition
• diagnosing organisational problems
• building organisational capacity
• developing a shared vision
• formalising change strategies and generating short-term wins
• dismantling temporary transition structures and processes
• ensuring organisational learning.

In order to enhance the chances of affecting lasting, successful change, organisational change navigation needs to be guided by at least the following principles (Burke, 1987; Kotter, 1996; Nadler & Nadler, 1998; Nadler, Shaw & Walton, 1995; Veldsman, 2002):

• believing in the possible actualisation of a clear vision
• linking change to the organisation’s strategic intent (i.e. a central or overall change theme) and the concerns of organisational members
• steering the overall change in a manner that mirrors the desired future state; maintaining congruence between all aspects of the change and the organisation itself
• providing organisational members with adequate or high-impact training and emotional support
• investing substantial resources in support of the change
• dealing with the resistance to change in an open and fearless manner
• conducting frequent assessments of the change’s effects (or impact)
• the ongoing, wide sharing of information
• dealing with the historical baggage of previous change journeys
• celebrating milestones and successes
• providing visible and active transformational leadership
• encouraging responsible and active participation (or engagement) by organisational members
• developing a conceptual model as an intellectual map to aid in conceptualising and systematising the change that the organisation has to undergo.

The intended CNBSPP must incorporate the necessary organisational change navigation process with its associated steps and principles to defuse the tension arising from the difference (or chaos) between the presence of the ‘what is’ state and the ‘what should or must be’ state. That is, the ‘in between’ state in the organisation, arising from the scenario-based planning with its commensurate scenarios. In addition, CNBSPP must contain change navigation actions to facilitate buy-in and commitment towards the change and change journey as organisational members set out to realise the most probable future as indicated by their scenario-based planning.

The ultimate outcome of the change navigation process is to enable organisational members to arrive in the desired future state as defined in the most probable scenario, able and willing to perform. Without the enabling contribution of organisational change navigation, scenario-based planning with its scenarios run a real risk of becoming merely an interesting, stimulation academic exercise, with no real, committed implementation. Lack of implementation of strategic intents and plans is the most prevalent downfall of strategising. It can readily be assumed that the rapid, radical changes faced by organisations, now and in the future, will require significantly different scenarios which will demand most stressful changes from people. The incorporation of organisational change navigation as an inherent part of scenario-based planning will hence become even more pressing.

Developing country
The term ‘developing country’ (also referred to as the ‘South’, ‘non-industrialised countries’ or ‘emerging nations’) generally encompasses the economically underdeveloped countries of Asia, Africa, Oceania and Latin America relative to the developed countries represented by North America, Western Europe and the Far East (Chaliand, undated). Though treated as one for the purposes of this discussion, developing countries are not homogeneous. They are characterised by diversity, contrasts and contradictions both within and between themselves. Some of these differences revolve around variables, such as (Kiggundu, 1989):

• geography and size
• levels of social and economic development
• population size and make-up
• degree of urbanisation
• natural resources endowment
• level of technological advancement
• political systems
• culture
• religion
• languages
• distribution of income
• quality of life.

Against this backdrop, in what general ways do developing countries differ from developed countries? At least the following three differentiating features are important for the purpose of the study in order to design a contextually valid CNBSPP:

A fundamental transformation is occurring in these countries at the foundational level of society (i.e. in the norms, values, beliefs and assumptions underpinning the society), affecting the structural arrangements (e.g. legislative or regulatory arrangements) and day-to-day functioning (e.g. market competition) of societies in these countries. Diverse, competing ideological positions and camps exist about the ‘right’ foundational level in ideological terms, appropriate to the newly emerging society being brought into existence. For example, a socialist versus capitalist economic system; the role of the state in the economy; the relationship between the state and the church and what rights should be recognised in terms of the country’s constitution (Agbakoba, 2004; Bernstein, 2010; Veldsman, 1997; 2002).

Conventional scenario-based planning most often assume that the foundation of a society is in place. That is, that ideological closure and consensus have been achieved. The changes to be accounted for in scenarios thus are limited to trends and trend breaks at the structural arrangements and day-to-day functioning levels of these societies. In other words, conventional scenario-based planning is ideological and value free. In contrast, developing counties are intensely engaged in ideological and value debates and struggles.

The wide (and in many cases the widening) gaps between the ‘Haves’ and ‘Have Nots’, the latter in these countries mostly being in the majority, creating severe socio-cultural and economic tensions and divides. Usually the latter group feels excluded, exploited and see no future for itself. Frequently the members of the ‘Have Nots’ do not have the knowledge or skills, resources and/or opportunities to aspire and realise a better future for themselves and their dependents. People in developed countries usually feel that they can have a different, better future as the result of taking personal initiate relative to available opportunities (e.g. the ‘American Dream’). Developing countries therefore have much stronger socio-economic class divides (Bernstein, 2010; Veldsman, 2002).

Conventional scenario-based planning assumes a narrow range of stakeholders being actively involved in the process, typically internal stakeholders, including the organisational leadership and perhaps employees and shareholders. More ‘enlightened’ organisations may include a broader range of stakeholders like suppliers and customers as well. Scenario-based planning in developing countries will have to consider how to bring the ‘voices’ of different segments of the community and society into the room and process, in this way demonstrating tangibly and visibly their intentions as a good corporate citizen. In other words, organisations engaging with developing countries need to enlarge their view of stakeholders and their active engagement in scenario-based planning. These organisations should go even further by concretely demonstrating through publicly visible, community engagement projects their commitment to social upliftment.For example, upgrading schools or funding competent teachers (Bernstein, 2010).

The dominant presence of multi-national or global, capital strong companies in Developing countries to the detriment of local, upcoming companies unable to compete successfully on equal footing with the former. This may pose a real threat in terms of bankruptcy and employment loss to the local organisations and a knock-on effect onto communities and individuals. This frequently affects the reputation and legitimacy of multinational (or global) companies in those countries detrimentally who are seen as profiteering exploiters. It may even result in these organisations been expelled or only permitted restricted access. Sometimes the local community may mobilise against the presence of such a company in the country (Bernstein, 2010).

This negative view is worsened if the multinational or global company has an ethnocentric attitude and practices, which assumes there is only one way and that is their way as per their home country. Everything these organisations say and do, takes on the flavour of how they do things back home (Perlmutter, 1969). This position is one of imported cultural imperialism. A less parochial position is where executive and senior leadership positions, especially in critical functions, are reserved for nationals from the organisation’s home country, whilst locals are given less important, more junior positions in less critical positions in these organisations, a polycentric attitude (Perlmutter, 1969). This attitude allows the organisation to be able ‘localise’ their approach in terms of in situ demands and conditions. Both the ethnocentric, but also the polycentric to a lesser degree, will result in undermining and eroding any shared sense of a common destiny amongst organisational members since they are seen as individuals and their cultures (or countries) as inherently inferior. A ‘Them’ and ‘Us’ divide will exist in the organisation. Multi-national (or global) organisations should rather adopt a geocentric mind set and basic attitude (Perlmutter, 1969). In this case, it is acknowledged that no single culture or management approach is superior, but each and every culture should be seen as equal and of value.

Conventional scenario-based planning does not require a pre-process questioning regarding the mind set and basic attitude of the leadership participating in the process and whether that mind set and attitude fit the context. Context relevant scenario-based planning, appropriate to developing countries, requires an in depth questioning of participants’ mind sets and attitudes in order to arrive at contextually aligned scenario-based process which will be seen as legitimate and credible. In this way a sense of community and a shared destiny with co-responsibility in the organisation will be engenderer. Furthermore, in a concrete and real manner genuine partnershiping with local companies in creating shared futures and destinies need to be created, again requiring the broadening of the group of stakeholders to be involved in the scenario-based process to demonstrate good local corporate citizenship as discussed above, but also in transforming the relationship model of the organisation in terms of equity participation.

The intended CNBSPP, in taking the context of developing countries into account, will have to:

• be more strongly leveraged from and informed by competing ideological, value based positions as departure points to generated more ideologically and valued based (or framed) scenarios
• ask more penetrating questions about who must be seen as stakeholders and consequently who must be participants in the scenario-based planning process
• preceded by an in depth pre-process questioning and surfacing of the appropriateness of existing leadership mind sets and basic attitudes.

In other words, in contrast to conventional scenario-based planning originating in a Anglo-Saxon context, in developing countries the factors that may have an impact on the credibility and legitimacy of the scenario-based planning process and may impact on the organisation’s standing as a good corporate citizen in affecting its ability to realise expected futures, must be interrogated much more aggressively as an integral part of the scenario-based planning process.

Afro-centric leadership
By way of introduction, it must be stated that Afro-centric leadership must not be seen to be practised only by ‘black-skinned’ leaders, or African leaders. Afro-centric leadership must rather be viewed as a contrasting leadership mode (or a different approach or paradigm) to Western Leadership. Put differently, Afro-centric leadership must be seen as a proxy for a different mode of leadership. However, it is true that this mode of leadership is an inherent part of the African culture and in this way persons growing up in this culture are spontaneously acculturated into Afro-centric leadership (Knight, 1999; Madi, 2000). The question to be answered here is whether Afro-centric leadership is any different to Western leadership. If this is the case, the question can posed as to how this difference impacts on scenario-based planning as a management tool when applied from such a leadership perspective.

Central to Afro-centric leadership is a ‘community’ concept of management (Broodryk, 2005), expressed in terms such as ubuntu (amongst the Zulus), botho (in both Tswana and Sotho), obotho (amongst the Pedi) or mensheid (in Afrikaans). The cardinal belief of ubuntu is summed up by the Zulu and Sotho expression, ‘a person being only a person because of other people’. Ubuntu thus means ‘humanness through others. It is based on the belief that ‘I am because we are’ (Booysen, 2001; 2009; Broodryk, 2005; Khoza, 2003; Mbigi, 1997; 2000; 2005). The collective brotherhood of mankind is thus at the heart of Afro-centric leadership.

In its most fundamental sense, ubuntu places great emphasis on a concern for people, good citizen behaviour and working for the common good. The key values of ubuntu are to encourage individuals to express themselves through unconditional compassion and empathy, treating other humans with dignity, acting morally, demonstrating collective sharing and solidarity, as well as service to others in the spirit of harmony (Boon, 1996; Booysen, 1999; 2001; 2009; Broodryk, 2005; Mangaliso, 2001; Mbigi, 1997; 2000; Mbigi & Maree, 1995; Meyer & Boninelli, 2004; Pietersen, 2005; Prime, 1999).

The implications of an ubuntu-orientated leadership mode include not only teamwork and inclusive participation down to grassroots level, but also the encouragement of team members to sacrifice their personal gain not only for the benefit of the group but also for the common good of the wider community. Openness, transparency and consensus decision making and decisions, as well as structure through rituals and ceremonies are also inherent to ubuntu-orientated leadership (Avolio, 1995; Booysen, 2001; Mangaliso & Damane, 2001; Mbigi, 1995; 2005; Mbigi & Maree, 1995). Afro-centric leadership is thus very close to what is also called servant leadership. This style of leadership is regarded in many quarters as the more appropriate leadership mode for the emerging new world of work and the knowledge worker of the future in a knowledge economy (Dubrin; 2004; Northouse, 2007).

In contrast to Afro-centric leadership, Western leadership inter alia is (Booysen, 2001; 2009):

• individualistic or self-sufficient (i.e. the ‘individual hero’), competitive, leadership from the mind which is logical, factual and analytical
• performance driven
• achievement orientated (sometimes at any, or even all, costs)
• organisation-centric, as well as seeing and using people as a means and not an end.

From this discussion, it should be apparent that real qualitative differences exist between Afro-centric and Western leadership modes. Having originated in an Anglo-Saxon context, it can be readily assumed that conventional scenario-based planning would assume and be infused by a Western leadership mode. Using an Afro-centric leadership mode as a departure point for the intended CNBSPP will infuse CNBSPP with a different leadership quality at the core of which is ubuntu with its associated central values of human centricity expressed in compassion and empathy, collective solidarity and responsibility, participation and stewardship. The adoption of such a leadership mode may also ‘re-invent’ conventional scenario-based planning leadership wise for a knowledge economy in which knowledge workers have to be led and managed. The manner in which scenario-based planning will thus be designed, planned and executed from a leadership perspective will look qualitatively different.

In summary, based on the literature review it was argued in order for conventional scenario-based planning to become a more value-adding management practice it has to be complemented, enriched and transformed by:

• assuming a different theory of reality, that is, complexity theory

• be framed as organisation wide story telling process

• be integrated (or fused) with change navigation as the essential enabling process to deal with the people side of the intended changes implied by this planning

• incorporate the unique features of developing countries: competing ideological, value based positions as departure points to generated more ideologically and valued based (or framed) scenarios; a wider definition of stakeholders; and in depth pre-process questioning and surfacing the appropriateness of existing leadership mind sets and basic attitudes

• Afro-centric leadership as a more appropriate leadership mode in which to embed scenario-based planning for more narrowly defined a developing country context and more widely defined a knowledge economy populated by knowledge workers.

The to-be-designed and validated CNBSPP intends to incorporate these components as ways in which to strengthen conventional scenario-based planning in order to enhance its value-adding contribution as a management tool.

Research process stage 2: Insights gained from practice views solicited from seasoned scenario planning practioners

The views from 12 seasoned scenario planning practitioners were solicited through one-on-one interviews (‘Stage 2: Step 6’ of the research process; see Figure 1). According to these practitioners, a scenario planning process needs to include the following basic steps:

• confirmation of the agenda for scenario development
• identification and seeking of information on the major business drivers in the external organisational environment
• categorisation of the major business drivers under ‘important’ and ‘critical uncertainties’
• development of scenario logics reflecting probable storylines that portray possible futures convincingly
• the writing of plausible scenarios, taking the form of stories
• the development of business strategies and action maps with full consideration of each scenario.

The practitioners proposed that the following factors influencing scenario-based planning in a developing world context from an Afro-centric leadership perspective which need to be incorporated into the to-be-developed CNBSPP:

• having strong and wide involvement/participation/consultation to ensure buy-in at all organisational levels
• emphasising the quality of intense strategic dialogue or storytelling with the focus on divergent conversations
• using symbols and exercises to describe the various storylines such as metaphors, storytelling, music, proverbs, drawing, acting or creating something
• selecting the level of sophistication and use of technology or terminology carefully because scenario-based planning as a tool must be kept simple
• understanding the cultural background (or context) for storyline interpretation
• having adequate time to develop proper scenarios
• having knowledge applicable to the relevant country (such as the regulatory system)
• demonstrating respect for the individual.

From these interviews of seasoned practitioners it was concluded that the intended CNBSPP must include both the basic steps normally included by scenario planning practitioners in a typical scenario-based planning process, as well as those unique factors that would strongly influence scenario-based planning in a developing country world context from an Afro-centric leadership perspective.

The literature review and practice views enabled the development of CNBSPP (the next step in the research process) described in the next section.

Research process stage 3: The proposed CNBSPP as based on the literature review and practioners’ initial views

The initially proposed CNBSPP was crafted from the insights gained from the literature which were reported above (Stage 1: Steps 1–5) and initial practice views solicited from seasoned scenario planners (Stage 2: Step 6). Figure 2 provides a high-level graphic overview of the proposed CNBSPP applicable to a developing country context from an Afro centric leadership perspective (Stage 3: Step 7 of the research process; see Figure 1).

The proposed CNBSPP process comprises seven stages consisting of eleven steps. From a complexity theoretical perspective, the seven stages must be thought of as an overall cyclical road map enabling one to traverse a complex and highly unpredictable environment. Every step is interconnected within a circular, organic and systemic process. Construing scenarios is hence an iterative process moving back and forth between the interrelated stages or steps.

The details of every step included in the proposed CNBSPP, incorporating the insights gained from the multidisciplinary literature review and the seasoned practitioners, are elucidated in the next section after having tested the proposed process with the practitioners, the next step in the research process.

FIGURE 2: A graphic representation of CNBSPP applicable to a developing country context from an Afro-centric leadership perspective.

Research process stage 4: Seasoned practioners’ views on the proposed CNBSPP stages or steps

The empirical validation of CNBSPP
Having built the proposed CNBSPP in Stage 3, the expert opinions of the seasoned practitioners consulted before were again solicited in order to validate the proposed CNBSPP empirically (‘Stage 4: Step 8’ of the research process; see Figure 1). Their views of the proposed CNBSPP follow below. This stage/step of the research process was seen as the empirical validation of the proposed CNBSPP.

The practitioners were of the view that assuming that there is a need for change (or dissatisfaction with the status quo) in an organisation may not always be true in all cases. ‘Mobilising dissatisfaction with the status quo’ appears to them to be manipulative and agenda driven. The practitioners stressed the need for written and unwritten rules regarding the use of CNBSPP to be defined clearly. It must also be scoped clearly whether the scenarios are about the organisation or whether they focus on the external environment and whether a need exists to distinguish between the contextual and transactional worlds. If one intends to make use of normative scenarios, which run the risk of being agenda driven and manipulative, it is important to make this clear and warn users of possible abuse.

In addition, the practitioners felt it is useful to identify the implications of the scenarios for the current organisation and the opportunities for the future possible organisation. The action maps must be tested for robustness against all possible scenarios. Finally, the practitioners were of the opinion that it may be useful to distinguish between leading indicators to measure the implementation of strategy and indicators to alert the organisation about the unfolding scenarios.

According to the scenario planning practitioners, CNBSPP generally complied with most of the evaluation design criteria decided on to assess CNBSPP against (see Research Design section). The practitioners asserted that CNBSPP does not fully satisfy ‘cost-effectiveness’ and ‘completeness’. Several of the participants indicated, however, that they were not in a position to assess CNBSPP properly on the criteria of ‘cost-effectiveness’ and ‘reliability’ because compliance with these criteria can only be assesed with accuracy when CNBSPP is applied practically.

The following conclusions emerged when comparing the insights gained from the literature review against the assessment of the proposed CNBSPP by the seasoned scenario planners in empirically validating the proposed CNBSPP.

Steps included in a change navigation based, scenario planning process
Although the literature review highlighted the need for conducting an obstacles, negatives, positives and opportunities appraisal’ and ‘building organisational capacity to be included in a scenario-based planning process, these steps were not specifically highlighted by the practitioners. The experts identified no steps in addition to those already ascertained during the literature review for inclusion in CNBSPP.

Unique factors strongly influencing scenario-based planning in a developing country context from an Afro-centric leadership perspective
Various factors influencing scenario-based planning in a developing country context and an Afro-centric leadership perspective (identified in the literature review) were not emphasised by the practioners. These factors were:

• appealing to the ‘invisible agency forces of the spirits’
• having a shared vision
• an evolutionary, bottom-up, present-into-future- based process that is people driven
• a cyclical planning approach
• the ubuntu philosophy
• valuing the role of women
• democratic or participative leadership
• low assertiveness
• high entrepreneurship
• reasonably high uncertainty avoidance
• valuing seniority as expressed in age
• a tendency to deviate from formal agenda items
• sharing responsibility
• emergent (or flexible) outcomes
• celebrating accomplishments.

Those factors influencing scenario-based planning that were raised by the practitioners (in addition to those identified from the literature review) included:

• select the type and level of sophistication of technology to support the planning process carefully
• acknowledge different approaches to strategic planning
• employ a practical approach to scenario-based planning
• convince stakeholders of the need for a scenario-based planning approach
• deal with the fear of doing strategic planning.

Research process stage 5: The finalised change navigation-based, scenario planning process

Having completed Stages 1– to 4 as reported on above, this section deals with ‘Stage 5: Step 9’ of the research process, that is, the finalised CNBSPP as the outcome of the empirical validation by seasoned experts relative to the current body of knowledge. Table 1 shows how the insights gained from the literature review, the practice views and the inputs received during the empirical validation of the proposed process were integrated into the finalised CNBSPP. In other words, how these insights have been incorporated into traditional scenario-based planning to expand the process to incorporate change navigation and be contextually relevant for application in a developed country from an Afro-centric leadership perspective.

Table 1 indicates that the finalised CNBSPP contains various contributions from scenario-based planning and scenarios, organisational change navigation, Afro-centric leadership, storytelling and stories (the literature review) and practitioner views. The empirical validation provided little additional information, over and above that which were provided by the literature review and initial practice views that were to be incorporated into the initially proposed CNBSPP.

According to Table 1, the following activities were included in the finalised CNBSPP in addition to those activities (or steps) normally used in the conventional scenario-based planning process:

Stage 1 - Step 1: Use available means to fuel or mobilise an awareness of the need for change. Persistently sell the change to a critical mass of individuals whose active commitment is necessary to provide the energy for the change to occur. Coupled with generating awareness for change, is the need for personal storytelling and open dialogue.

Stage 1 - Step 2: Select a technology (or terminology) appropriate to the participants’ level of sophistication.

Stage 1 - Step 2: Implement participation and communication mechanisms to create momentum and energy in support of the organisational change, including using language and unifying symbols to represent the change goals; creating heroes and stories about ‘larger-than-life’ figures and myths to convey a sense of what is important and addressing language difficulties in cross-cultural communication.

Stage 5 - Step 8: Carry out an assessment of the internal capacity of the company to perform the newly allocated responsibilities with respect to the unfolding scenarios with efficiency and greater productivity.

Stage 6 - Step 9: Constantly communicate a detailed picture of the intended future to organisation members. Set up rapid feedback and feed forward communication channels with wide frequency bandwidths to enable the continuous tracking of the rollout of the change.

Stage 6 - Step 9: Formally and informally reward organisational members to reinforce values and behaviour congruent with the new organisational order, placing a strong focus on promoting group incentives or rewards.

The total research process as outlined in Figure 1 was concluded at this point.

TABLE 1: A contextually aligned and empirically validated CNBSPP applicable to a developing country from an Afro-centric leadership perspective.


The problem statement informing the study was to examine how scenario-based planning (a strictly cognitive management tool) can be combined with organisational change navigation (a practice addressing the emotionality of change) to give an organisation a more robust, holistic management tool that adds significantly more value. Futhermore, this integrated process must be aligned with the prerequisites imposed by a developing country context and an Afro-centric leadership perspective in order to make the process more context relevant and aligned. The finalised CNBSPP is the outcome of addressing this problem statement.

The research makes a unique theoretical contribution to the current level of knowledge by integrating two disciplines usually practised independently of one another, namely scenario-based planning and organisational change navigation, as well as embedding the process into a different context of application (i.e. the developed country) as viewed from an Afro-centric leadership perspective. Methodologically, the CNBSPP is a generic planning framework requiring little customisation to make the process ‘fit for purpose’ for a specific setting. From a practice point of view the CNBSPP enables leaders to integrate insights from diverse stakeholders into different interpretations about how the future might unfold. Legitimate and credible strategies can now be crafted in terms of probable futures and can be translated into flexible, stakeholder owned, implementation plans.

A strength of the study is that the development of CNBSPP was based on an all-embracing literature review, supplemented by the views of seasoned practitioners in scenario-based planning. Maintaining the participation of these practitioners (i.e. their availability) over the entire research period posed, however, a major challenge. Some practitioners indicated their difficulty in reviewing an abbreviated version of the CNBSPP because of the information provided. A major limitation of the study was that the empirical validation of the CNBSPP was only based on a thorough assessment by the practitioners and not based on the tool’s actual application in practice. This would be the next logical step in further research regarding the CNBSPP.

The dominant developed country management paradigm needs to move in the direction of equally valuing developed and developing country management tools. Simultaneously, leaders in developing countries should craft their own context (or culture-specific) strategic planning approaches and tools instead of uncritically imitating those originating in developed countries. The CNBSPP is an example of such an attempt. This drive, however, should not exclude learning from best practices applicable to cultural realities prevalent in developing countries.


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