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CAFE – Futures

CAFE: Construction Alternative Futures Explorer

The Construction Alternative Futures Explorer (CAFE) was developed to help create models (event maps) containing information to support strategic thinking. The method used in CAFE follows closely the approach which managers naturally adopt to think about possible future business environments, that is, it supports the gathering, structuring and analysis of information from soft data sources, such as newspapers, trade press, oral intelligence, and industry commentaries.

By using CAFE it is possible to hold and manipulate a large quantity of data, from diverse sources, and to integrate it into a number of internally consistent scenarios or alternative views of the future. There are two parts to CAFE, the software and the methodology. The software used is the causal mapping tool, Decision Explorer® (which has uses beyond those embodied in the CAFE methodology). The CAFE methodology is a specific approach to data extraction, structuring, analysis and presentation, developed with the needs of decision makers in mind. The CAFE manual (available from the training downloads area) explains how to use the software associated with CAFE, how to extract data for use in CAFE models and how to build, analyse and present the models. CAFE can be used in either a single user/decision maker context or in a group context. In a group context a facilitator is needed. Facilitated use of CAFE requires the involvement of an “independent” facilitator (or facilitators) to guide the process of model exploration and scenario building. The facilitator is independent in the sense that he or she is not directly involved in the decision making process which CAFE is being used to support. The development of CAFE has been based on work with contracting organisations operating in the construction industry, so the examples given in this user guide are taken from the construction industry.

Important note: The manual references an add-in module that only worked with an older version of the Decision Explorer® software so the CAFÉ menu of the module, as described in the manual, is no longer available. However, the analysis portion of the software (which is embeded in Decision Explorer®) is still available (via the Banxia Software web site), so you can access it via the command line instead of the menu. Jenny Brightman, Banxia® Software Ltd