Scenario Planning

What We Do - Scenario Planning

One of the most frequently used foresight tools is scenario planning.

Scenario planning is not about forecasting one unique future. Instead it embraces uncertainty to create a number of different, but viable and internally consistent, views of the future.  It builds on the drivers of change but also seeks to identify “weak signals”, paradigm shifts and wild cards (“black swans”).

Inherent in scenario planning is the need to challenge the orthodox view of the organisation. Doing this means drawing on a diversity of views rather than just “experts”, avoiding cognitive bias and looking at a wide range of sources of information.

Scenarios are explorations of the future rather than forecasts. They will be realistic and include both risks and opportunities. Their key benefit is in testing strategies and creating contingency plans. Participating in the scenario generation activity is of itself beneficial for the people involved, helping them to consider a wider range of outcomes.

There are a number of techniques for generating scenarios. SAMI will explore which is the most suitable for each project. Among the most popular approaches are:

  • “Cone of plausibility”: taking a baseline forecast and flexing various assumptions to produce a range of outcomes;
  • “Scenario cross”: identifying two independent drivers of change that are uncertain and important, thereby creating 4 potential futures;
  • 3D scenarios: taking three drivers and combining them to produce a range of futures – more complex but richer perspectives
  • Morphological – 4+ axes; deal with greater complexity

For more on foresight tools and techniques, go to our Training  – Techniques pages