Institutionalizing imagination" is not a foreign concept to David Friedman, vice president of marketing and direct sales for Connexion by Boeing, which offers in-flight Internet and email services. Scenario planning has helped Friedman and his team predict the moves of direct competitors. For example, they guessed that Tenzing (a software company that offers in-flight email) might team with other companies to launch a competing service. Nine months later, it did, joining with Airbus and SITA, which provides IT and telecom services to airlines and airports.
But it also helps Friedman think much more broadly, imagining how other airline service and in-flight entertainment companies might someday become more direct competitors. For Friedman and his team, the "red teaming" practice the 9/11 Commission suggests is what makes scenario planning effective. "When you tell someone to put themselves in the shoes of somebody else and ask them what it would take to be successful against the company they're in now, the gloves come off," he says. "Then you have some really unique ideas."
A version of this article appeared in the February 2005 issue of Fast Company magazine.