Overview – Hypotheticals

Hypotheticals are interactive sessions where an organisational issue is played out in some future time based on a number of assumptions. A debate ensues around those projections. Hypotheticals provide a methodology for examining difficult choices. They enable participants to envision a broader perspective on an issue by presenting a range of possibilities relating to that issue. Hypotheticals are a powerful way of stimulating employees’ understanding of possible outcomes based on current or proposed courses of action.

Grey TickThis tactic is useful for:


Fostering employee understanding regarding the cause-and-effect implications of their behaviour and actions, e.g. the long-term consequences of declining employee productivity.
Challenging employees’ thinking in a way that is informative and entertaining.
Shifting entrenched ways of thinking that are adversely impacting the organisation’s performance.
Helping employees see beyond their own role in the organisation.

cloudyThings to consider:


Determine the organisational or ethical issue to be examined. This should be an issue of compelling relevance to the audience.
 Select an appropriate forum to stage the hypothetical. These can range from conferences and leaders forums to off-sites and workshops. A hypothetical typically runs for 1½ hours.
 Craft a storyline to explore a range of potential scenarios in how the organisation might respond to the selected issue.
 Select a moderator to run the hypothetical and convey the story line to the audience.
 Select the panellists who debate the validity of the projected scenarios under the moderator’s direction.
 Arrange for a briefing session beforehand so the key players are clear on their respective roles in the hypothetical.
On conclusion of the hypothetical, elicit the audience’s learnings and insights for workshopping the issue if required.

Tone BulbHelpful tip:


Build employee understanding about the selected issue first by playing out a number of potential scenarios. This lays the groundwork for moving into the panellists’ debate regarding the assumptions being made. The aim is to find a solution through questioning or cross-examination that identifies the relative merit of different points of view.
Category: Face to Face