Scenario planning resources





Welcome to the reference page on scenario planning and scenario thinking!

At this web page you will find references and texts about scenario planning. Some are good for orientation while others are much deeper and part in the effort on developing the method and exploring new areas of application. I have tried to make it more convenient for you by organizing them in a way that hopefully will make it easy to find the information you are seeking. I have also filtered out a lot of references I feel are duplicates or in some other way doesn't provide any additional information on the subject. If you feel your links are missing or would like to propose some additions or changes, please feel free to contact me!

Martin Börjesson (mb@well.com)
consultant (www.futuramb.se), blogger (futuramb blog),
scenario thinker, speaker, strategist and university lecturer

Last updated December 3, 2007

Managing tomorrow's people - The future of work to 2020 (Scenarios)
PricewaterhouseCoopers in UK have together with James Martin Institute for Science and Civilization developed a set of scenarios focused on the future of work.
A set of scenarios from Future Studio (Scenarios)
Future Studio have collected a long list of scenarios on different subjects.

What is Scenario Planning? (top)

Scenario planning is a method for learning about the future by understanding the nature and impact of the most uncertain and important driving forces affecting our world. It is a group process which encourages knowledge exchange and development of mutual deeper understanding of central issues important to the future of your business. The goal is to craft a number of diverging stories by extrapolating uncertain and heavily influencing driving forces. The stories together with the work getting there has the dual purpose of increasing the knowledge of the business environment and widen both the receiver's and participant's perception of possible future events.

The method is most widely used as a strategic management tool, but this and similar methods have been used for enabling other types of group discussion about a common future.

Introductory texts (top)

Here you can find easy to read texts for the impatient but curious.

Scenarios
A short description from Global Business Network, a major participant in the scenario arena, on what scenarios are and what they are good for.
How to build scenarios
A populistic article in the Scenario Special issue of Wired Magazine about scenarios with a simple fleshed out example. The author is Lawrence Wilkinson who is co-founder and managing director of Global Business Network (see below), a think tank and strategic consultancy that has succeeded in spreading the use of scenario planning.
Current Royal Dutch/Shell scenarios and introductory texts
Shell provides both introductory information about scenario planning aswell as several downloadable scenarios.
Plotting Your Scenarios - An Introduction to the Art and Process of Scenario Planning
Peter Schwartz and Jay Ogilvy originally wrote this very good article for Liam & Fahay Learning From the Future (see book references below).
The Wikipedia entry on Scenario Planning
This should be a standard reference on scenario planning, but right now I think it isn't. I am looking for energy and time to edit it.

Blogs (top)

Here are blogs that in someway are about scenario planning, even if they also talk are related to other areas as well.

Future of Health IT: Trends and Scenarios
"Commentary on the future of health information technology and its effects on society and culture, especially with respect to the future of biomedical research informatics, from an informatics practitioner-researcher in the U.S. academic health center clinical research informatics community. What's it all about? The Long Tail, social networking and network visualization tools, folksonomies, cool health IT innovations, serious games, scenario planning..."
Open the Future - Jamais Cascio's blog
Jamais is writing about many things related to the future, but is a scenario planning practitioner and write occasionally more specifically about scenario planning as well. Examples are posts about the experience from performing virtual scenario planning sessions over the Internet and the idea of Open Source Scenario Planning.
Mapping Strategy
A blog with "reflections on strategic thinking, forecasting, scenario planning and organizational resilience" by Art Hutchinson, founder of the Cartegic Group in Boston.

Articles (top)

More in-depth articles in the scenario domain. Some are focusing on the scenario process in itself while other are discussing applications to different areas.

Storying corporate futures: The Shell Scenarios
The history about the scenario planning at Royal Dutch/Shell - an interview with Betty Sue Flowers.
Doing Scenarios
Art Kleiner, author of The Age of Heretics, wrote this article for The Whole Earth Review in Spring 1999 and contains a short step-by-step overview of the scenario planning method and a book reference list.
Strategic thinking with scenarios - Note: IDON site occasionally pointing wrong!
An article by Tony Hodgson (Metabridge) which is one of the best (in my opinion) because it is concise. Recommended! There are more interesting articles at the Metabridge article collection (broken - under reconstruction) .
Deconstructing the Future - The Cognitive Case for Scenario Planning
A cognitive argument for scenario planning written by Gary Chicoine at Metabridge
Spinning the future
Another overview article on scenario planning.
Attuning to the future
In this short article from Context Magazine the author is presenting a simple process using some scenario mechanisms to break open the perspectives on the future.
Scenario planning for distributors
Article in Modern Distribution Management which argues for scenario planning and refers to the commerical scenario based report Facing the Forces of Change: Future Scenarios for Wholesale Distribution
What if? - The Art of Scenario Thinking for Non-Profits (PDF)
Global Business Network recently published a longer text about scenario planning aimed at non profit organizations. It is long but is definitely worth reading if you are working in a non profit organization.
A Delicate Balance Between Risk and Reward
When Financial Times ran a series called Mastering Risk a number of GBN people was involved in the process. This article is written by Eamonn Kelly and Steve Weber.
Moving Beyond the Official Future
This is another article in the Financial Times Mastering Risk series. This one was written by GBN consultants Chris Ertel and Doug Randall.

Scenarios and strategy

Scenarios, strategy and the strategy process
Interesting paper by Kees van der Heijden, a strategic planning veteran from Shell who is also a member of GBN. Scenario planning is treated as a strategic tool that can be used to develop business idea by testing it in several futures and getting a more powerful and more robust strategy.
Using scenarios to develop strategy
Paul de Ruijter reports from a project where scenarios were used to develop strategy in a large multi national company.
(Real) options thinking and scenarios - discussion paper
How do scenarios relate to options thinking. With options the authors mean options as in optional or in "which path to choose" and not financial options.
From scenario thinking to strategic action - turing intelligence into action
An article on how to take scenarios to real action.
Taming Uncertainty: Risk Management for the entire enterprise
PriceWaterhouseCoopers presents a text with an argument for using scenario planning as strategic tool based on a discussion on Risk Management.
The Strategic Management Response to Challenge of Global Change
A discussion about Scenario Planning and strategy by James L. Morrison and Ian Wilson.
Business tsunamis are approaching - learn to prepare
Leonard Fuld has written an article in Pharmaceutical Executive about  scenarios and how to prepare for dramatic changes in industries.

Scenarios in an academic context

The Art of the Possible - The scenario method and the ‘Third Debate’ in international relations theory (PDF)
A masters thesis in International Relations using scenario method. Quote from the Introduction:
"I believe the scenario method is in line with current theoretical developments in international relations. In my opinion it manages to largely overcome what is criticised in traditional approaches, while at the same time it shapes ways to work with new ideas. Furthermore, scenarios combine and incorporate ideas from recent critical approaches, such as Critical Theory and postmodernism, without necessarily rejecting traditional approaches. The scenario method leaves room for multiple approaches.

Scenarios (top)

Here you can find published scenarios in different areas. Almost all of these are handling different domains so categorizing them is almost impossible.

Managing tomorrow's people - The future of work to 2020
PricewaterhouseCoopers in UK have together with James Martin Institute for Science and Civilization developed a set of scenarios focused on the future of work.
A set of scenarios from Future Studio
Future Studio have collected a long list of scenarios on different subjects.
Meadowlark Project
A Northern Great Plains Inc project aiming at engaging the population in an intense dialog about the common future.
Siemans AG - Horizons2020 - Thinking ahead: Exploring sustainable development
Siemens have a long tradition of thinking broad about the future and develop scenarios.
WBCSD water scenarios to 2025
World Business Council for Sustainable Development - WCSD are using scenario planning to explore the problem of availability of clean water. This document is both important reading for anyone who want to understand more about the problem as well as a really high quality set of scenarios.
WBCSD Global Scenarios 2000-2050: Exploring sustainable development
Another high quality set of scenarios from WBCSD.
Scenarios for future scientific and technological developments in developing countries 2005-2015
CORDIS scenarios which are developed in order to increase the understanding about implications of EU relations to developing countries.
Biotechnology Scenarios: 2000-2050: Using the future to explore the present
Scenarios from 2000 developed by World Business Council for Sustainable Development which aimed to support a strategic conversation about our biotech future.
Global Trends 2015: A Dialogue About the Future With Nongovernment Experts
A report produced in December 2000 by the US government. It is the result of a project where a lot of non-governmental experts were gathered to create a map of the future. In the end of the report you can find four scenarios as a part of the result from the project.
Which world? - Scenarios for the 21st century
A web site which actually is a companion site to a book by Allen Hammond with the same name. A number of global scenarios can be found on these pages.
The Scenarios for the 21st Century Organizations
The subtitle is: Shifting Network of Small Firms or All-Encompassing "Virtual Countries" and it says a lot of what this scenario is all about. It is further the base scenarios behind the creation of the MIT/Sloan project Inventing the Organizations of the 21st Century.
Kenya at the Crossroads (broken site?)
Between 1998 and early 2000, a group of over 80 Kenyans representing different generations and backgrounds met to reflect on the future of the country. Their reflections are summarized in four scenarios which depict alternative futures that could evolve and what they would mean for the country. This web site brings together their experience.
Current Royal Dutch/Shell scenarios and introductory texts
Shell provides both introductory information about scenario planning as well as several downloadable scenarios.
Scenarios Europe 2010 - Five possible futures for Europe
A scenario project initiated by the EC which was performed in 1999.
Scenario Planning for the Technical Textiles Sector of the TCF&L Industries
A PDF report written in September 1999 from a project initiated by the Australian government.
The Future of the Mobile Internet in Europe in 2007
The Digital Thinking Network convened a scenario-building workshop to develop and analyse potential futures for the mobile Internet in Europe over the next five years.The summary report is publicly available
Scenarios for the future of US - China relations (2001 - 2010) (PDF)
GBN Europe have been involved in facilitating a scenario process in a project driven by Nautilus Institute entitled Towards a Common Agenda: Strategic Partnerships for Environmental Governance After the Asian Crisis.
The Future of the Tertiary Education Sector: Scenarios for a Learning Society (PDF)
A set of scenarios prepared for the OECD/Japanese Seminar on the Future of Universities, Tokyo, December 11-12, 2003.
The new global Shell scenarios for 2025
These scenarios are especially interesting in the current energy situation.

Commercial scenario reports (top)

As an extended version of the examples section there are a number of commercially available scenario reports that show a wider usefulness of scenarios.

Facing the Forces of Change: Future Scenarios for Wholesale Distribution
A reference to a commercial industry report with 4 fleshed out scenarios by Pembroke Consulting.

Organizations (top)

There are a number of organizations who are providing strategy services and education built on scenario planning. This list does not make any claims of being extensive and will only provide you with some organizations which I have had at least some contact with or have been collecting information from.

futuramb
This is my own company engaged in scenario planning projects, education and speaking about the future.
Global Business Network
As a worldwide membership organization, GBN engages in a collaborative exploration of the future, discovering the frontiers of knowledge and creating innovative tools for strategic action." - Since 1987 GBN have worked together with a large number of big companies to explore the future of their industries. Everything they do involves scenario thinking in one way or the other and they are an authoritative force in the scenario planning world. Their network of remarkable people is huge and includes many of America's big thinkers, but also people from other places as well.
Kairos Future
Kairos Future is a Swedish consulting company who are mainly focusing on the future and strategic issues around the future and base some of their work on scenario planning techniques. Their list of published books is impressing.
St Gallen Center for Futures Research
A Swiss organization mainly working with scenario planning and system dynamics. Most of the web site is in German.
Digital Thinking Network
A network organization who work with scenarios with main focus on exploring our digital future.

Practical links (top)

There are some useful links on for supporting the scenario planning process on the Internet. Here I am trying to collect those that I find most valuable in the process.

Plausible Futures
A very good and updated newsletter with resources for scenario planners. News, thoughts and references are constantly being updated on this excellent site.
StrategyNet (formerly StrategyPortal and StrategyNet)
This is a UK based portal which provides on-line links to web sites offering knowledge, information, articles and insights about strategy, strategic management and strategic planning. A good collection of strategy related links.

Reference literature (top)

In dead tree versions there are a number of books dealing with scenario planning. There are of course more than these, but not that many.

Peter Schwartz - The Art of the Long ViewThe Art of the Long View
Planning for the Future in an Uncertain World

(Peter Schwartz; Doubleday, 1991; 258p;
ISBN 0-385-26731-2(o.o.p.),
Paperback 1996; ISBN 0-385-26732-0pb)

This is the best starting book describing the fundamentals of scenario planning. Peter Schwartz is a futurist and a founder of GBN, but have also worked at SRI and Shell with scenario planning. Read the GBN Book Club text on the book.

Click to buy from Amazon.co.uk
Click to buy from Amazon.com

Kees van der Heijden - Scenarios , the art of strategic conversationScenarios - The Art of Strategic Conversation

(Kees van der Heijden; Wiley, 1996; 305 pages; ISBN 0-471-96639-8)

In my opinion, the best book about scenario planning in a business context because it connects to strategy and it's practice in a strategic context. The author Kees van der Heijden is one of the founders of GBN and have also a history as head of the Scenario Planning group at Shell. Read the GBN Book Club text on the book.

Click to buy from Amazon.co.uk
Click to buy from Amazon.com

Gill Ringland - Scenario planning, Managing for the futureScenario Planning - Managing for the Future

(Gill Ringland; Wiley 1998; 401 pages; ISBN 0-471-97790-X)

A book mainly focused at providing experiences from a number of scenario planning projects in different companies.Gill Ringland work for ICL and the book take base in the scenario projects within ICL, but are also providing texts from a number of other projects in other contexts. Read the GBN Book Club text on the book

Click to buy from Amazon.co.uk
Click to buy from Amazon.com

Fahay & Randall - Learning from the FutureLearning from the Future

(Liam Fahey, Robert M. Randall; Wiley 1998; 446 pages; ISBN 0-471-30352-6)

A volume containing a number of articles focusing on different application areas or aspects of scenario planning. Some overlapping info, but also a lot of ideas on how to use scenarios. Read the GBN Book Club text on the book.

Click to buy from Amazon.co.uk
Click to buy from Amazon.com

Art Kleiner - The Age of HereticsThe Age of Heretics

(Art Kleiner; Doubleday, 1996; 414 pages; ISBN 0-385-41576-1)

This book is telling the stories about the heretics who challenged the reigning views at companies like Royal Dutch/Shell. By using scenario planning they saw possible future events which the management groups didn't see at all. Art Kleiner is among other things teach a scenario class focusing on the future for telecommunication infrastructure at New York University. Read the GBN Book Club text on the book.

Click to buy from Amazon.co.uk
Click to buy from Amazon.com

Kees van der Heijden - The Sixth SenseThe Sixth Sense
Accelerating Organisational Learning with Scenarios

(Kees van der Heijden et al, 2002;  320 pages; ISBN 0-470-84491-4)

This book focus on the problem for individuals and organizations to embrace the future. How can scenario planning help organizations to survive; to overcome the difficulties with group think and  cognitive barriers?

Click to buy from Amazon.co.uk
Click to buy from Amazon.com

Lindgren & Bandhold - The link between future and strategyScenario planning - The Link Between Future and Strategy

(Mats Lindgren & Hans Bandhold, 2002; 192 pages; ISBN 0-333-99317-9)

Lindgren and Bandhold are taking scenario planning one step further into a more strategy integrated process. By being more pragmatic and less philosophic this is definitely a valuable contribution to the business community when it comes to spreading scenario planning as a practical tool in everyday strategic planning.

Click to buy from Amazon.co.uk
Click to buy from Amazon.com

Other links (top)

There are a lot of links on the web that are dealing with futurist issues. Here are some that could be of interest.

Futurizing your organization
This refers to a subsection on the Horizon site and contains articles on how to approach the future. Most of the articles concerns scenario planning.
The Plausible Future - Scenario planning resources
Another excellent page with a lot of information on scenario planning, references and organizations.
University of Arizona reference site - Scenarios, Foresight and Change
A reference list used in a course on methods and approaches for studying the future.
Scenariothinking.org wiki
This is (to my knowledge) the first wiki focusing on scenario thinking. A wiki is a page which everyone can update and add knowledge to. Daniel Erasmus and DTN is behind it which also means that Daniels students are working on it and publish scenarios and valuable thoughts related to their projects.

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