Foundations of Scenario Planning : The Story of Pierre Wack book cover
1st Edition

Foundations of Scenario Planning
The Story of Pierre Wack

ISBN 9780367026561
Published August 23, 2018 by Routledge
318 Pages

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Book Description

Pierre Wack was head of scenario planning at Royal Dutch / Shell Oil in London for just over ten years. He died in 1997. He was a pioneer of what we know today as scenario planning – an alternative and complement to strategic planning.

Scenarios explore a variety of possible futures for examining decisions in organizational planning. Pierre was a unique man with interests in Indian and Japanese cultures and traditions. He travelled extensively and led a unique life that involved long periods of visiting gurus in India and extended sabbaticals in Japan. His experiences with Eastern thought no doubt shaped his ability to evolve the scenario method at Shell, and as a result he was able to lead a team that foresaw the oil crises of the 1970’s and 80’s.

This new volume will cover the basic context of his life timeline and attach it to the development of his thinking about scenario planning over the course of his career. After his death, Wack’s materials, papers and documents were collected by Napier Collyns and have recently been made available at the University of Oxford where the Pierre Wack Memorial Library has been established. These documents contain a variety of clues and stories that reveal more about who Pierre Wack was, how he thought and will provide details about scenario planning that have never been seen or published. They also reveal a curious man and include a timeline written by his wife, Eve, which details their relationship over the course of 40 years.

Written for management and business historians and researchers, this book will uncover unseen contributions by a scenario planning pioneer shaped by significant events in his personal life that helped him to see the world differently.

Table of Contents

Part 1: Who Was Pierre Wack?

1. Pierre Wack’s Personal Motivation to "See"

2. Travels to the East: Japan and India

Part 2: The Shell Years

3. Bringing the Scenario Team Together: Two Pieces of Jade

4. Getting Scenarios off the Ground (1971-1973)

5. Regrouping and Modifying the Scenario Method (1974-1977)

6. Evolution of Scenarios inside Shell (1978-1982)

Part 3: The Post-Shell Years

7. Diamonds, Gold and the Dark Side of the Moon

8. Calm Waters and Tidal Waves

Part 4: Reflections and Legacy

9. Reflections

10. What Can Be Learned from this Remarkable Life?

Part 5: Pierre Wack’s Works

11.  Wack’s Final Presentation to the Manufacturing Division at Shell - 1982

12.  Wack’s Original Manuscript "The Gentle Art of Re-Perceiving"

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Thomas J. Chermack is Associate Professor of Organizational Learning, Performance and Change and Founder and Director of the Scenario Planning Institute at Colorado State University, USA.


"I met two people who had an extraordinary influence on my life: Pierre Wack and Nelson Mandela. The first taught me how to see into the future by correctly perceiving the present; the second how to change the future by having the correct moral compass. To both my heartfelt thanks."Clem Sunter, Chair of the Anglo American Chairman's Fund, UK

"In this book, Thomas Chermack had the talent to highlight the complexity of the character of Pierre Wack. Faced with many unique challenges, my husband was able to transform them into a deep inner fulfillment. Being able to "see," he was able to free himself of many contingencies and to emerge as one of the brightest figures of his generation. This book allows one to discover the role played by Pierre Wack in Shell and shows how it is essential for any economist to have clear and structured thinking." —Eve Wack

"Pierre Wack was a truly remarkable man, who searched for others like him to gain insight into the future. Thomas Chermack has written the outstanding story of the life of this remarkable man...a true opportunity to get inside the mind of the greatest all time seer in the world of business."Peter Schwartz, Senior Vice President for Strategic Planning of, USA, former Head of Scenario Planning at Royal Dutch Shell, UK

"Pierre Wack was a visionary ahead of his time. His work on scenarios laid the foundation for looking at the future in new and actionable ways. Any business leader, or MBA student who aspires to be one, has much to learn from his remarkable story."Michael E. Porter, Harvard Business School, USA

"Thomas Chermack has written a compelling biography of an exceptional man. Pierre Wack applied a timeless and enduring discipline to "see" the present, understand its possibilities and identify ways forward. He was the pioneer of scenario planning." -- Ged Davis, Executive Chair, Scenarios, World Energy Council and former Head of Scenario Planning at Shell