What We Do
Plausible, Possible, Diverse
Scenarios take us into a possible future. They describe a world to come, making a systematic set of assumptions about the drivers shaping that world. They may be brief and descriptive or they may include story-like narratives that represent the point of view of personas in the future. They may include a “history of the future”—how we get from here to there.
Scenarios may come in sets that represent alternative sets of assumptions. IFTF often uses the classic set of alternative futures developed at the University of Hawaii to describe four archetypal ways of thinking about the future: growth, collapse, constraint, and transformation. As part of the Ten-Year Forecast program, we have recently developed another set called “Impossible Futures” based on a typology of scenarios that “violate” assumptions about time, probability, reality, and culture.
Scenarios are particularly valuable for stretching our strategic options. They can create a conceptual wind tunnel where we can test how well our strategies will “fly” under various conditions. They can also help us break out of our habitual thinking to inspire innovation and help build resilience.