Organizations can use knowledge management strategies to foster change (Bloodgood & Salisbury, 2001). One such strategy is knowledge creation, which is a process where diverse individuals collaborate to create new knowledge by sharing their unique perspectives and engage in back and forth discussion, (Bloodgood & Salisbury, 2001). Scenario planning is one such process. Organizations use scenario planning by honing in on specific uncertainties of its future and making predictions for the best outcome (Mariton, 2009). Scenario planning can be used for decision making, strategy development, production planning, or simply to educate employees (Shell, 2013).
Once Nike adopted a systems perspective and recognized its interconnectedness to the industry and its global partners, it used scenario planning to engage its network in the change effort (Paine et al.
, 2016). Through scenario planning, Nike leveraged internal and external knowledge resources to identify “implications of major global trends – population growth, water scarcity, energy shortages, climate change, the Internet, health issues, governance – for the world and for Nike’s business model” (Paine et al., 2016, p. 7). One key finding from the scenario planning exercises was that the scarcity of natural resources “would increasingly define the business landscape” (Paine et al., 2016, p. 8). For example, the scenario planning exercises revealed that the Asia Pacific region, where much of Nike’s manufacturing occurred, would be impacted the most from water shortages (Paine et al., 2016).
Through scenario planning, Nike leadership collectively understood the full gravity of the situation and knew big changes were needed now to avoid contributing to intractable environmental damage (Paine et al., 2016). The findings led Nike to develop “key initiatives related to water use, hazardous materials, and waste in the supply chain” (Paine et al., 2016, p. 26). Nike also understood that even with its large size and scope, it was just a small part of the equation towards a remedy (Jones, 2015). To appropriately address the issues revealed from scenario planning, Nike engaged in collaborative partnerships and alliances to accelerate the development of a shared plan for green chemical solutions (Jones, 2015).
Nike’s scenario planning exercises evolved into an employee engagement program to “build shared accountability for creating a sustainable business” (Paine et al., 2016, p. 8). The program was used to educate employees about how Nike’s business could be impacted by global trends (Paine et al., 2016).