This section provides background reading on governance, strategy, and leadership. Our writings are grouped under:

  1. Governing in an Information Society
  2. Dialogue-based Leadership and Governance
  3. The Four-step Scenario Building and Use Process
  4. Examples of Using Four-Step Scenarios Process

Patricia Meredith, Steven A. Rosell, and Ged R. Davis

Although the information age offers individuals the power to make their voices heard, we often end up with a cacophony of competing voices rather than a conversation. With so many people empowered to join the decision-making process, the diversity of stakeholders in governance situations poses a special challenge: how do you steer when so many hands are on the wheel?

Catalytic Governance offers a proven approach to managing this challenge, built on the insight that effective leadership and governance depends less on traditional top-down approaches and more on creating shared meanings and frameworks.

Drawing on their experiences managing transformational change in complex,multi-stakeholder environments on issues ranging from finance to climate change, health, and the digital revolution, Patricia Meredith, Steven A. Rosell, and Ged R. Davis demonstrate how to use dialogue to engage stakeholders, explore alternative perspectives,
develop shared mental maps and a vision of the future, and co-create strategies and initiatives to realize that future. While elements of this approach will be familiar, this is the first time they have been combined into a coherent model and tested together in practice. The book describes in detail how this was done in the process of transforming the Canadian payments system.



Governing in an Information Society

Steven A. Rosell, IRPP, 1992

This report provides a fascinating insight into how a group of senior Canadian government officials have explored, over a two-year period, the implications of the information society for governance. Information technology is contributing to the rapid changes of globalization, regionalization and democratization that are transforming the world. Existing institutions and structures seem unable to cope with the complex issues raised in these turbulent times. In a refreshing and even reassuring way, this report demonstrates how governments are grappling with the changes as they seek to develop new types of governance appropriate to the twenty-first century.



Changing Maps: Governing in a World of Rapid Change

Steven A. Rosell, McGill-Queens Press, 1995

How can we organize and govern ourselves successfully in a world of rapid change and increasing interconnection? This book reports the findings of a round table of senior Canadian government officials and private sector executives, exploring fundamental changes in the economy, in culture and values and in the social contract that characterize the emergence of a global information society.



Renewing Governance: Governing by Learning in the Information Age

Steven A. Rosell, Oxford University Press, 1999

This book outlines the work and findings of an action research program undertaken by senior Canadian government officials and private sector executives, exploring the implications for governance of a global information society. It also presents four scenarios of how the information society may reshape the environment for governance as we move into the next century.




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The Magic of Dialogue: Transforming Conflict into Cooperation

Daniel Yankelovich Simon and Schuster, 1999

Successful managers have always known how to make decisions and mobilize coworkers. But as our businesses continue to expand, conversations and discussions just aren’t enough to bring people and their different agendas together anymore. Dialogue, when properly practiced, will align people with a shared vision, and help them realize their full potential as individuals and as a team. Drawing on decades of research and using real life examples, The Magic of Dialogue outlines specific strategies for maneuvering in a wide range of situations and teaches managers, leaders, business people, and other professionals how to succeed in the new global economy, where more players participate in decision-making than ever before.



A Missing Step in the Governance Process

Steven A. Rosell, Development, 2004, 47(4), (43–49)

This article briefly reviews some of the lessons learned in over a decade of work with leaders from government, business and civil society in Canada, the United States and elsewhere. It examines how scenario planning has become an important tool for leading and governing in today’s new governance context, and the need to make room for real dialogue at the front end of our most important decision-making processes.



Creating Strategic Dialogue

Daniel Yankelovich And Steven A. Rosell, The Financial Times Handbook of Management, Third Edition (Prentice Hall: 2004) 851-855, 2004

Strategy creation is a corporate imperative. Yet the optimal way to formulate strategy has proved elusive. A growing number of companies are discovering the power of strategic dialogue.



Moving Beyond Polls and Focus Groups

Steven A. Rosell and Heidi Gantwerk, Toward Wiser Public Judgment – Yankelovich and Friedman (eds), 2011

Using dialogue to engage the public in governance, and to generate insight that goes beyond what polls and focus groups can provide. This article includes many specific examples.




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Scenarios: An Explorer’s Guide

Royal Dutch Shell, 2003

Scenarios: An Explorer’s Guide’ is written for people who would like to build and use scenarios, and also for those who want to enhance their scenario thinking skills. This book describes the approach used to develop Shell’s 2001 global scenarios, under the guidance of Ged Davis.



Questioning assumptions– exploring alternative business futures

Swedbank Conference, Stockholm, March 2002

Shell companies use scenarios to help them think about the future–challenging their assumptions, developing strategies, testing plans. The 2001 Shell global scenarios – looking out to 2020 – explore the social consequences of globalisation, liberalization and advancing technology. They contrast a world focused on efficiency and individual choice – driven by an interconnected global elite influenced by US values and ideas – with one shaped by the interplay of our differences, where countries find their own development paths to suit their particular circumstances.



Scenarios as a tool for the 21st Century, Probing the Future Conference

Strathclyde University, July 2002

We live in a world of increasingly complex interconnections, both between people, and between people and nature. As we enter the 21st century, we find ourselves facing an emerging set of complex issues for which there appears to be no simple analysis. Scenario thinking may offer a solution. The process of creating scenarios places a strong emphasis on the joint definition of a ‘problematique’ and on a synthesis of ideas, rather than just extended and deeper analysis of a single viewpoint. Because they involve using multiple perspectives to explore problems, scenarios can help us to create shared understandings of possible developments, options and actions.



Scenarios: Exploring Societal Problems

The World Conservation Union (IUCN) Futures Dialogues: Imagining Feasible Futures, Johannesburg, August 2002

Scenarios offer a unique approach for working effectively with multi-stakeholder groups, and offer an approach that honors differences and aims at broadening a collective understanding of different frames of reference, required as part of reaching problem resolution. Without a good idea of the future, it is difficult to make progress. The process of building and developing scenarios helps us identify those pressure points, those effective levers of change. The future is uncertain, but scenarios can and will most certainly play a central role in the forward-looking, action-oriented processes that help in identifying and clarifying difficult large-scale societal problems.




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Scenarios for the Future of the Canadian Payments System

Task Force for the Payments System Review, Canada, April 2011

The Scenarios development process was conceived as an opportunity for Task Force members and stakeholders from a wide range of industries and sectors to learn from leading experts in the payments field, and from one another. The process allowed participants to explore different viewpoints, map key uncertainties that might affect the future, and engage in sustained dialogue on the future of the payments system. The four scenarios succinctly address the challenges that Canadians face in transforming their payments system.



Victorian Brown Coal in a Carbon Constrained World

Earth Resources Development Council, State of Victoria, Australia, January 2010

The Earth Resources Development Council has used a scenario development approach to consider how the future of Victoria’s brown coal sector may develop over the next thirty years. A wide range of stakeholders were involved in a series of workshops during which the scenarios were developed. The main factors that influence the future of Victoria’s brown coal were found to be: the emerging international commitment for action on climate change; the quantity, accessibility and viability of Victoria’s brown coal; the viability of geological carbon storage resources; and potential energy market developments within Australia and overseas.



Digital Ecosystem Scenarios

World Economic Forum, January 2007

Broadband adoption, technological advances and decreased operating costs have pushed the IT, Telecommunications and Media and Entertainment industries into a period of great flux. As they converge, they are forming a space we could call the Digital Ecosystem. The future of the Digital Ecosystem is explored in these scenarios, highlighting many of the risks and challenges for government policies, as well as presenting new opportunities for creating social and economic value. The critical uncertainties focused on are user empowerment, market structure, market regulation, Intellectual Property Rights, security and privacy.



Technology and Innovation in Financial Services Scenarios

World Economic Forum, January 2007

These scenarios explore how, in a globalized world, innovation will transform access to, and delivery of, financial services by 2020. Critical questions examined are: Will innovation be incremental or fundamental, will it be driven by traditional or new players, and what types of innovation will we see?



India and the World Scenarios

World Economic Forum, January 2006

These scenarios address the challenges to India’s future as a global player. Chief among these is the need to build a broadly based dynamic economy that enables all citizens to share in the gains from economic development.



AIDS in Africa: Three Scenarios to 2025

UNAIDS, January 2005

Sub-Saharan Africa is the region of the world worst affected by HIV and AIDS. This book describes three scenarios of possible future developments of the epidemic in the region. This is of value to anyone concerned about HIV and AIDS living or working in the region, and also members of governments and officials, donors and other international organizations.



Exploring Sustainable Development

World Business Council for Sustainable Development, November, 1998

These scenarios have been developed to explore possible responses to the challenge of sustainable development. These responses arise from habitual patterns of thinking that for who we are, whether or not we are conscious of them. Such patterns-or “myths”-shape what we think is possible or real, and how we talk to one another about the crises and opportunìties that face us. Thus, the point of divergence from what all the stories have in common—the new, the many, the connected—arises when human actors respond in varying ways to the challenge of sustainable development. This variation in human response means that the branching point of the scenarios—what differentiates them from one another—lies not so much in the ecosystem or in the social system, but within us.



Special Report on Emissions Scenarios

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2001

These scenarios, prepared for the IPCC Third Assessment Report, provide input for evaluating climatic and environmental consequences of future greenhouse gas emissions and for assessing alternative mitigation and adaptation strategies. The scenarios provide important insights about the inter-linkages between environmental quality and development choices, and is a useful tool for experts and decision makers.




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