Evans Incorporated’s unique and human-centered workshop exploring the future of communication, navigation, and surveillance technologies at this year’s ICNS conference was a smashing success!
A Unique, Interactive Experience
Over the course of 90 minutes, the over 150 attendees at the conference were exposed to an experience you won’t typically find at a tradeshow or industry event. We are grateful to Dr. Lance Sherry of George Mason University for inviting us to participate and to our panelists Chris Corgnatti (PAE ISR), Victoria Cox (Senior Technical Advisor, Veracity Engineering), and Jim Stroiney (Acting Deputy CIO, FAA) for sharing their observations and insights into what the next 20 years of ICNS might expect. From UAS to spectrum management to the role of cyber security in aviation, our panelists explored a range of outcomes the industry may see through the 2040 time horizon. After the half hour panel discussion concluded, the interactive scenario planning session began. The room was divided into four different groups, with each group assigned to a different ‘world’. These worlds were characterized using very brief narratives to help describe what 2040 might look like in economic, political, environmental, technological, and related terms to give each participant a landscape against which they could intellectually explore what “could be.”
The World Café Workshop
Each group spent a few minutes independently thinking about what risks (to be mitigated) and opportunities (to be exploited) related to communications, navigation, and surveillance may arise in their assigned world. Once done, participants discussed their ideas amongst themselves and with the facilitators. Ideas and feedback were captured until a critical mass of those ideas were documented. Each participant then rotated to a new world. The participants were then able to see and interact with the ideas generated by the previous group – referred to as a world café style workshop. As the workshop progressed, most participants ultimately traveled through each world reading, interacting, and sharing their views on how each alternative future scenario might impact the ICNS industry. At the conclusion of the workshop, the feedback from the event was put on display at the exhibitor’s booth for conference attendees to browse and discuss for the remainder of the conference!
Scenario Planning Uncovers Unknowns
This kind of scenario planning exercise is but one of the sort of tools that organizations can use to facilitate creative and intentional thought about how to align strategy against a future full of unknowns. Whether thinking about next quarter or next decade, there is a gap in the strategic planning marketplace relative to how most organizations undertake a strategic planning project. Just as the experience at ICNS focused on the interaction of people and engaging the participants to stimulate new ways of thinking, so must organizations take an approach that centers on the spirit of human-centered engagement and evolution.
Strategy is all about trying to accomplish something that is fundamentally different from today, and that can’t be done without aligning large numbers of people to move toward a different future.