Scenario thinking

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Scenario thinking is a form of role play to explore future possibilities. Stuart Candy wrote a nice introduction with pointers to other good references and work.

Scenario Work

Publicly available scenario work that others have done:

Examples of Preferred Futures

Many of these were drawn from Stuart's Twitter thread. See also Visioning.



Delphi Method

The original forecasting method was invented by Olaf Helmer (the co-founder of Institute for the Future) while he was at RAND in the 1950s.[1][2] It was an expert-oriented system that attempted to use anonymous questionnaires that were summarized and reflected back in order to avoid groupthink.

Major Life Moments

This exercise was inspired by this article, which notes:

Our life experience shapes what we want, what we hope for, what we fear, and what we think. Our generation has different expectations and assumptions about the world than our parents, and a new era gives our children perspectives that are distinctly different from ours....

Russians under 24 won’t remember Russia before Putin, and those under 34 have no memory of the Soviet Union. South Africans younger than 30 won’t have clear memories of apartheid. They know the African National Congress as the party of power, not the party of liberation. Chinese under 35 can’t recall a time when their country was not the world’s rising economic power. Iranians under 45 have no memory of life before the revolution. French, Italians, and Germans younger than 22 have never paid for a meal with francs, lira or Deutsche Marks. Brazilians younger than 39 and Nigerians under 25 have no experience of military rule. Americans under 23 won’t remember the world before 9/11. Those under 34 didn’t experience the Cold War. Those under 53 won’t remember racial segregation. Something to think about when trying to predict what citizens will want from their governments.

These generational shifts in worldview are likely what lead to historical cycles (and are also why this site is "Faster Than 20").

We can map these by looking at major moments in history as well as population trends in age demographics, then do thought experiments based on this data. This might also be an opportunity to build a tool.

Control Wars's Control Wars


Incorporating Online Tools

Scenario thinking has largely been practiced as a face-to-face process. However, there have been some explorations into integrating online tools into the process, and there are more opportunities to experiment.



See Also

GBN has great materials (both introductory and case examples) on scenario thinking. In particular, Diana Scearce and Katherine Fulton's What If?: The Art of Scenario Thinking for Nonprofits is an excellent introduction.

Other materials of interest:

Futures Thinking

Human perception#Futures Thinking

Medium Magazine 2069

Long Now Foundation's Long Bets

Speculative Futures