Colleen Magner

Colleen Magner explains one of the finer points of transformative scenario planning at CN&CO ConFab #3

We’ll be the first ones to say that we are surrounded by some of the most dynamic and driven people on any given day. Be it clients, colleagues, friends – or people we meet by chance at an event. On Monday, 9 November 2015, we were again reminded how fortunate we are to have such amazing people in our networks.

The third CN&CO ConFab took place at our HQ in Illovo. Our speaker for the evening was Colleen Magner, managing director at Reos Partners and chairman of CN&CO.

Colleen shared some interesting stories around her experiences in the transformative scenario planning space. If you’re new to the concept, the Reos Partners website describes it thus:

“Transformative scenarios aren’t about predicting the future, they’re about creating it. While most planning methodologies focus on adapting to the future, transformative scenarios seek to shape it as well. This structured yet creative method, involving multiple events over several months, helps diverse actors to discover what they can and must do.”

Collaboration was a key theme that Colleen focused on in her talk, entitled “When is the right time to collaborate for people who don’t necessarily agree or like each other?” Colleen and her team bring together people on opposite sides of the spectrum and get them engaging – which is no easy feat.

She shared a number of examples of how the Reos Partners team had successfully brought people together with vastly divergent viewpoints and backgrounds, to collaborate on issues that had been preventing them from moving forward on whatever they were trying to achieve.

“You don’t have to like each other,” she said, “but you have to put your differences aside and work together to reach a solution that works best for everyone. After you’ve moved on, you can go back to not liking each other again, that’s fine. But while everyone is in the room, they have to work together.”

It was very interesting to learn how group think and fragmentation can hamper success in transformative scenario planning, and also how valuable language and the phrasing of questions can lead to the success in these instances.

Colleen shared the story of six blind men feeling an elephant for the first time, and how each interpreted it only as the bit that they they felt.

“People get stuck in certain paradigms,” said Colleen. “Often, their inability to see outside of their own little boxes is what hampers progress.”


CN&CO ConFab #4 will take place on 18 January 2016.