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Case Study: Scenarios for the Rail Industry in the UK for Angel Trains
In late 2009, the Commercial team at Angel Trains Ltd identified a need to derive long term industry scenarios to enable them to develop strategic options for the organisation. They then agreed with the Executive Team that a scenario planning pilot should be explored, driven by a desire to understand how the industry might evolve and thus to inform:
A project was set up to develop a range of scenarios to inform strategic options available to Angel Trains looking to the future (2020-2030), focussing on the factors external to Angel Trains. They were used to explore the impact of the scenarios on Angel Trains' current assumptions for their medium to long term investments and what other options there might be in the future. The project explored the impact of the scenarios on the current strategy in order to gain insight as to:
The team first developed and documented a list of 12 drivers for the Rail Industry, through desk research and a series of interviews with people in the rail industry and investors. To understand what potential futures could look like, a workshop of senior managers placed each of these onto a spectrum of whether the outcome was forecast able or uncertain. Then three uncertain drivers were chosen which could have a big impact on Angel Trains. Each of these was turned into a question which could have a YES/NO answer. For example for the UK Global Competiveness driver, the YES/NO question was; ‘will UK growth increase relative to the global average position?’
A brief scenario was then created for each of the eight YES/NO permutations and then the four most important scenarios to Angel Trains were identified. For each of this four, winners and losers were determined, what the headlines might be, what could cause the scenario to happen, what could stop the scenario from happening and what were the options for managing the scenario. The storylines were developed over the course of two workshops, and the scenarios are represented below.
Following the workshops, further desk-top research was carried out to make the scenarios more robust before being reviewed by a senior manager group for credibility in a ‘windtunnelling’ workshop.
This led to three outcomes:
The Commercial team at Angel Trains also identified the need to involve external experts (SAMI Consulting) so that they could avoid ‘Group Think’. A joint team was set up consisting of Keith Bates and Chris Ham of Angel Trains, and Patricia Lustig and Gill Ringland of SAMI, supported by Colin Fletcher and Lynda McGill of SAMI.
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