Scenario-building has three main components: (i) acquiring orientation in situations of great uncertainty, (ii) developing several consistent scenarios and (iii) reflecting upon consequences and options for action derived from the scenarios.

The scenario-building method offers participants (and readers) the following:

  • It raises awareness of different future-alternatives, as well as of the possibility that these future-alternatives can be shaped. It also broadens our perceptions of the present and of future opportunities as conscious or unconscious constructions, which have both limiting and empowering potential.

  • It enhances the analysis of issues, situations and trends holistically and in all their complexities, as it encourages systematic thinking at different levels and across different spheres, highlighting interlinkages, interdependencies and self-reinforcing backward loops.

It provides a means of thinking prospectively (that is, future-oriented) in medium- to long-term timeframes, when habitually our learning and thinking are retrospective and our day-to-day decision-making often deals with rather short time horizons. In a fast-changing, fast-paced globalising world, we need increasingly to learn how to anticipate and deal with uncertainties just around the next corner and far beyond.