The world is always changing and people have been busy trying to predict the future throughout history, from the Oracles in Athens to the Youtube ‘prophets’ of today. But because of human progress change in our world is actually accelerating and people find it harder and harder to make sense of where we might be heading.
There is a term, originally mostly used by militairy academies, that describes this well; a VUCA world, a world that is Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguis. With technological innovation moving faster, a more rapid spread of ideas and easier communication, with a more interconnected world and an increased human impact on our environment change is happening faster with most of us being blindsided by these rapid changes.
Forecasting the exact future has never been a [trustworty] endeavor but there are tools that can help us prepare better for the future. Some predictions can be made with a high level of probability such as global demographics and some xxxxx [other example]. Scenario forecasting is a tool that creates different possible futures without pretending that one will be the exact future that will play out. It allows us to think about causes and effects of the various futures, we can test strategies and ideas versus the future scenario’s and we can define [milestones] that, if and when they happen, can help us assess the likelyhood of the scenario’s of actually happening. This allows us to be better prepared for what the future might hold.
Scenario forecasting allows you to make better decision around large longer term investments (like Shell did with oilfield exploration) or to invest in ‘strategic options’ to be able to benefit in certain scenario’s. You can test your strategy and how it will or won’t be successful in certain future scenario’s. You can use them to get a feel of where a certain market or technology might be heading to better understand the consequences. And you can use future scenario’s to be used as a framework to build data models about possible futures.
What scenario forecasting does not do is make most likely versus unlikely scenario’s. The tool is meant instead to give multiple futures that all have a decent chance of happening. And sometimes the scenario’s will be pulled a bit towards extremer ends of the scale to better highlight potential impacts and/or prod the imagination.
Scenario forecasting follows a well defined process to get to describe various future scenario’s with the following high level steps:
- Define the scope
- Collect trends and impacting factors
- Analyse & process information
- Create scenario’s
- Apply and/or use the scenario’s
On separate pages (just follow the links) you’ll get an idea of what actually happens in these steps and what is required of you as a user of the ScenarioScout tool.