IAF Methods

Ultimate Worst Case Scenarios

by for . Last edit was over 2 years ago
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An intervention to help a team explore the wildly negative and improbable  consequences of some pending decision or action. An approach to relieve the team of any unstated fears or paralysis from moving forward.

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The goal of this intervention activity is to find the worst scenarios until they seem so absurd and ridiculous that participants would not even regard them as being very realistical anymore. After the worst scenario possible, participants are likely to think of the positive aspects again. The negative aspects seem minor and not realistic so that finally decisions about what way to take to proceed can be taken. Thus, decision-making is speeded up and participants are more likely to come to a consensus in the end.


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    No special preparation is required. 


    When a situation in which decisions have to be made in order to get to a solution is stuck because people are afraid of negative consequences of some steps, this procedure should be carried out: At first, the facilitator asks the participants what the worst scenario would be. How negative can the consequences be? Participants should give answers (possibly in a row). Then, the facilitator should even emphasize and ask further? What negative consequence could the previous consequence activate? How bad can it be? In the end, it is likely that the participants would not take it seriously anymore and regard the negative consequences as absurd and irrelevant.


    Follow-Up Required: It is important, that the facilitator changes the direction of thinking after some time. The facilitator should emphasize how ridiculous this situation is and that the likeliness that this scenario could actually take place is so low that it is not worth considering. Next, the facilitator should come up with possible positive consequences of a certain action. These should be highlighted and imagined exactly. This will speed up the decision-making process and close the meeting with an action plan about which its creator would have a rather positive feeling.


    Alternative names: End of the world scenario.

    Comments (2) ( 3.0  avg / 1 ratings)

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    • Can I suggest another option for the follow-up piece? Instead of the facilitator coming up with positive consequences for a certain action; he/she instead goes around with the same method again, but this time asking something like: "what's the best thing that could happen if we took this action?" Keeps the facilitator neutrality intact in this case, I think.

      over 3 years ago
    • Agree to Mara comment. Let it go back to the participants, rather than Facilitator coming out with Positive Consequences

      over 2 years ago