goal to the present situation. If such a sequence can be constructed, it becomes a feasible scenario worthy of being submitted to the compatibility test to see if it meets the decision maker's standards.
More commonly, however, the focus is less on the goal than on the present state of affairs and how they can be changed in order to achieve a goal. The resulting scenario bridges forward from the present to the goal. If such a sequence of actions and events can be constructed, it too becomes a feasible scenario worthy of being submitted to the compatibility test to see if it fits with the images.
This view of scenario generation has some interesting implications when a scenario is under consideration for adoption as a plan. For example, Jungermann ( 1985) suggested that those parts of the scenario that lie furthest in the sequence from the starting point tend to be the least clearly formulated. Thus we would expect that difficulties in implementing the scenario would be concentrated earlier or later, depending upon whether the scenario had been constructed backward or forward. Moreover, forecasts must be updated more frequently for plans that grew from forward-generated scenarios because, in contrast to the clarity of the goal in backward-generated scenarios, forward- generated scenarios are ambiguous in the vicinity of the goal, and it is not clear that continued implementation of the plan actually will achieve what is desired.
In the workplace the location of ambiguity in scenarios is readily apparent. Planning committees that begin with the goal and work backward often fail to get things started because they have no idea what the requisite first steps might be. Similarly, committees that work in the other direction may not specify what constitutes success. That is, because goals often are abstract states ("a leader in our industry"), it may be unclear how to know when you have achieved them. Because of this ambiguity, it may be extremely difficult to know if the plan is making progress, or, perhaps as bad, to know when to stop once you get there. For example, how many publications does it take for an academic unit to declare success in achieving scholarly competence, and how many are too many, causing a consequent drain of resources away from other goals, such as good teaching? If ambiguity in the vicinity of the goal makes it difficult to detect lack of progress, it also makes it difficult to detect success and the need to stop pursuit of the goal that has been achieved.
Beach L. R. ( 1990). Image theory: Decision making in personal and organizational contexts. Chichester, UK: Wiley.
Beach L. R. ( 1992). Epistemic strategies: Casual thinking in expert and nonexpert judgment. In. G. Wright & F. Bolger (Eds.), Expertise and decision support (pp. 107-127). New York: Plenum.