A methodology to enable exploratory thinking in strategic planning
It is widely accepted that the traditional predict-then-act approach to long-term planning for delivery of public services, such as energy, water or transportation, cannot withstand uncertainties and complexities associated with issues such as population growth, changing demands and climate change. In this regard, various planning approaches have been put forward by the scholarship as alternatives to the conventional model. The planning practice, however, is often following the path-dependent legacy of conventional approaches. This study puts forward a planning intervention, which can be plugged into conventional planning processes, as a way of building capacity for alternative planning approaches to take off. The intervention aims at enabling exploratory thinking within the planning process. Exploratory thinking considers alternative perspectives to planning issues, different from the well-established frames of reference, to potentially reveal some of the blind-spots in the business-as-usual planning. Trial application of the proposed intervention within the process of planning for development of a flood management strategy in Melbourne, Australia, provides propitious indications of widening the scope of thinking among the participants. Based on the achieved insights, a methodology for carrying out the proposed intervention is presented. The methodology would be relevant, and potentially useful, for both planning scholars and practitioners.
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