Using scenarios to create common understanding across different cultures

Gill Ringland (Author of Scenario Planning (John Wiley, 1997) and Scenarios in Business (Wiley, 2002), is CEO and a Fellow of St Andrews Management Institute (SAMI) Consulting, located in London, UK. E‐mail:

Strategy & Leadership

ISSN: 1087-8572

Publication date: 1 December 2005



A High Level Expert Group (HLEG) was set up to consider the topic of converging technologies and to propose to the European Union how to approach it. But the group soon developed communications problems. A few members of the group proposed using scenario methodology to develop a common language.


The HLEG decided that creating four scenarios for Europe in 2020 would provide an explicit framework for discussing the contribution of converging technologies to society and the economy, and thus would ameliorate the communications problems that plagued the group.


Using scenarios to create alternative worlds allowed different views of desirable and acceptable futures to be set in context. The net result was a useful report presented to the European Commission.

Research limitations

This case study reports on four scenarios for Converging Technologies for the European Knowledge Society (CTEKs) in the year 2020.

Practical implications

Managers of diverse groups could use the same techniques to promote effective communication.


Managing diverse groups – such as networked communities – is becoming an important management skill and so is using scenarios to facilitate communication and learning among them.



Ringland, G. (2005), "Using scenarios to create common understanding across different cultures", Strategy & Leadership, Vol. 33 No. 6, pp. 34-38.

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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