Scenarios: What they are and their uses
An overview of the dominant method used in foresight work at the moment.
Scenario planning is an approach to imagine possible futures and explore how your organisation can be successful in those futures. The word ‘planning’ however has created a view that it is a planning method, which is partly true but it is also a constraining view.
A concise and useful definition is from Jay Oglivy:
Scenarios are alternate futures in which today's decisions may play out. They are stories with beginnings, middles and ends. Good scenarios have twists and turns that show how the environment might change over time.
But Kees Van der Heijden reminds us too that scenarios are also mental models of the organisation’s external environment. They are shaped by our assumptions and beliefs about futures. They represent a useful way to use our foresight capacities in an applied sense.
Scenarios are not predictions - they provide us with narratives about a range of expanded and new understanding of this environment in the present. They provide ‘clues’ about what might be important driver…