Navigating the Future with Scenario Planning: A Guidebook for Librarians

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  • Description
  • Table of Contents
  • About the authors
  • Reviews

This volume introduces and describes the use of scenario planning in libraries. Scenario planning can be used to build plausible stories about the future and to, therefore, be better able to plan, lead, and manage during uncertain times. This guidebook explains the uses of and processes for conducting scenario planning as both a futuring technique and as a planning tool. Combining practical step by step chapters with chapters on research using scenarios, Navigating the Future with Scenario Planning explains how libraries can use scenario planning tools to develop strategic agendas to help libraries to survive and thrive in turbulent times.

noted scenario planning expert Joan Giesecke with Jon E. Cawthorne and Debra Pearson and with contributions from Tyler Walters, this volume is appropriate for all types of academic libraries. Other types of libraries may also find this volume useful.


Chapter 1. Introduction
Joan Giesecke and Jon E. Cawthorne

A Theory of Scenario Planning
Scenario Planning versus Strategic Planning
A History of Scenario Planning
Scenarios and Scenario Planning
Navigating the Book

Chapter 2. Scenario Planning Theories
Joan Giesecke and Deb Pearson

Scenario Planning Models

  • Schwartz    
  • Schoemaker    
  • Ralston and Wilson    
  • Lindgren and Bandhold    
  • Wade    
  • Mercer    
  • Chermack    

Designing the Scenario Planning Process

  • Organizational Readiness    
  • Identifying the Focal Issue or Question    

Identifying the Steps in the Scenario Planning Process
Choosing the Scenario Planning Team
Beginning Scenario Planning
Ranking the Forces and Choosing the Driving Forces
Developing the Scenarios
Determining the Implications of the Scenarios
A Brief Example of Scenario Development

Chapter 3. Writing Scenario Plots
Joan Giesecke and Deb Pearson

Scenario Styles
Major Plot Lines

  • Winners and Losers    
  • Challenge and Response    
  • Evolution    

Other Plot Ideas

  • Revolution    
  • Cycles    
  • Infinite Possibilities    
  • Lone Ranger    

Writing the Story

Chapter 4. Developing Strategies for Scenarios
Joan Giesecke and Deb Pearson

Developing Strategies
Displaying Strategies


Chapter 5. Using Complementary Research Methods to Enhance Scenario Planning
Tyler Walters

Scenario Planning versus Using Scenarios
Research Methods

  • Delphi Method    
  • Semi-structured Interview Method    
  • Case Study Method    
  • Semi-structured Interview Method in Case Study Construction    
  • Stratified and Purposive Sampling    


Chapter 6. Scenarios on Higher Education
Tyler Walters

International Higher Education Scenarios and Research Programs
International Scenario Drivers
North American Scenario Studies of Higher Education
International Scenario Studies of University Research Trends
University Library–Related Scenario Studies
Tips for Using Higher Education Scenarios

Chapter 7. How Scenarios Help Organizational Leaders Think Creatively about Change
Jon E. Cawthorne

Defining Culture and Development of Groups
Leadership for Change

Chapter 8. Scenarios for Planning with Human Resource Directors
Jon E. Cawthorne

The Importance of Human Resource Directors
Four Scenarios
The Case Study Institutions and Choice of Scenarios
Human Resource Directors in the Four Case Studies

  • Case A    
  • Case B    
  • Case C    
  • Case D    

Responses by the Human Resources Directors

  • Similarities across All Case Study Sites    
  • Differences across Case Study Sites    


Chapter 9. University of Nebraska–Lincoln Student Technology Fee Case Study Updated
Joan Giesecke and Deb Pearson

Student Technology Fee: A Case Study at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln

  • Background    
  • Process    
  • Identifying the Drivers for Change    
  • Linking the Key Factors    
  • Producing the Initial Mini-scenario Elements    
  • Reducing the Number of Scenarios to Two    
  • Writing the Scenarios    
  • Identifying Issues That Arise    

The Case Study Revisited
Lessons Learned


Joan Giesecke

Joan Giesecke (1951-2017) spent 25 years with the University of Nebraska–Lincoln libraries, including 16 as dean. During her tenure, Giesecke tripled the library's endowment, oversaw renovations to enhance the libraries in size and service, developed relationships to help colleges advance teaching and research, and enhanced the diversity of the libraries. She developed a training program for managers and presented a variety of papers on management and supervisory skills. She was a former editor of Library Administration and Management and published numerous articles on management issues.

Jon E. Cawthorne

Jon E. Cawthorne, PhD, has served as library dean at Wayne State University Library System, which includes the University’s School of Information Sciences and West Virginia University. He has a PhD in managerial leadership in the information professions from Simmons University and is passionate about inspiring the next generation of leaders, supporting healthy organizational cultures, building leadership capacity within non-profit boards, and increasing diverse representation and voices across the information and publishing industries. Cawthorne is a past president of the Association of College and Research Libraries and currently serves as the vice-chair for the Wiki Education Board and chair of the Lived Places Publishing Advisory Board.

Deb Pearson

Deb Pearson is Head, Libraries Facilities and Planning at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

"Very enlightening and engaging."
— College & Research Libraries