Date of Conferral



Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.)


Business Administration


Thomas Schaefer


Organizational adaptability is critical to organizational survival, and executive leadership's inability to adapt to extreme disruptive complex events threatens survival. Scenario planning is one means of adapting to extreme disruptive complex events. In this qualitative interpretive phenomenological study, 20 executives who had lived experience with extreme disruptive complex events and applied scenario planning to help adapt participated in phenomenological interviews to share their experiences related to the application of scenario planning as a means adaptation to extreme disruptive complex events. Participants were from a single large organization with executives distributed throughout the United States and executives from 10 state agencies located within a single state. Using the thematic analysis process, 14 themes emerged. The themes included knowing the difference between adaptation and response, not being afraid to tackle difficult questions, scenario planning is never over because the environment constantly changes, the true measures of scenario planning value are the benefits achieved via the planning exercise versus the business application, and participation should be individuals who can or could have a direct influence on adaptation and do not get bogged down in structured and/or rigid processes, methods, or tools because while useful, they are not required to be successful. The implications for positive social change include the ability for organizations to reduce economic injury and the compound effects of disruption including the social impacts of business injury, disruption, recovery, job loss, and reduced revenue on communities and local economies.