Sponsored by the Federal Highway Administration, Office of Real Estate Services (HEPR), a one-and-a-half day Scenario Development Think Tank was held in March 2006 in order to develop a twenty-five year view of the future of public sector real estate. Think Tank participants included twenty-five federal and state agency real estate professionals, environmental and planning specialists as well as private sector professionals working in public sector real estate.
The Preferred Future Scenario Development Process
The scenario development process used is called the Preferred Future Scenario Development Process. This process seeks to anticipate probable and possible future scenarios and to focus them into preferred alternatives as well as to identify the critical strategic actions or issues that, if followed, will lead to the preferred future. The objective is to develop several plausible scenarios that describe how the world may develop given certain future events, trends and developments and to discover preferred strategic responses within these plausible futures. The process suggests that early identification of actions and strategies that shift your direction from the probable future to the preferred future is vital to successfully shaping the future.
Through the performance of several group exercises, Think Tank participants as a group defined, in terms of "predetermined elements" (events that will surely happen within the future time-frame) and "critical uncertainties" (events that are uncertain, but critical to the future of public sector real estate) the circumstances that would guide the development of the future scenarios. These circumstances are summarized in Exhibit ES-1.
Exhibit ES-1: Circumstances Guiding Scenario Development
Then, re-grouped into four working groups, participants spent two hours developing a timeline-based scenario noting both external trends and developments, and responses and trends within public sector real estate with the goal of developing a plausible future to the year 2030.
Strategic Issues for FHWA Office of Real Estate Services
Assuming that their scenario was the actual future, the working groups identified what would be the preferred responses in the public sector real estate community in terms of policies, practices, tools and technologies. Each team developed a list of ideas, but more importantly, the teams, though working under four different scenarios, ended up with a number of overlapping ideas of what the preferred responses in the public sector real estate community would be. These overlapping policies, practices, tools and technologies were called common ground elements.
Finally, Think Tank participants studied the list of common ground elements and asked, "What should HEPR do, learn, or prepare for in the coming years?" They looked specifically at policies, practices, tools and technologies they would recommend HEPR pursue in order to achieve some of the elements that were identified as part of the preferred future. The strategic issues for HEPR, identified by the group included: