(see updated notes at scenario_planning)
Scenarios are not predictions. Rather, they are provocative and plausible accounts of how relevant external forces — such as the future political environment, scientific and technological developments, social dynamics, and economic conditions — might interact and evolve, providing our organizations with different challenges and opportunities.
in “Why Scenarios?” http://www.gbn.com/about/scenario_planning.php
Scenario planning derives from the observation that, given the impossibility of knowing precisely how the future will play out, a good decision or strategy to adopt is one that plays out well across several possible futures. To find that “robust” strategy, scenarios are created in plural, such that each scenario diverges markedly from the others. These sets of scenarios are, essentially, specially constructed stories about the future, each one modeling a distinct, plausible world in which we might someday have to live and work.
Yet, the purpose of scenario planning is not to pinpoint future events but to highlight large-scale forces that push the future in different directions. It's about making these forces visible, so that if they do happen, the planner will at least recognize them. It's about helping make better decisions today.
From How to Build Scenarios by Lawrence Wilkinson
Imagine a database of thousands of items all related to understanding how the future could turn out. This database would include narrow concerns and large-scale driving forces alike, would have links to relevant external materials, and would have space for the discussion of and elaboration on the entries. The items in the database would link to scenario documents showing how various forces and changes could combine to produce different possible outcomes. Best of all, the entire construction would be open access, free for the use.
As a result, people around the world could start playing with these scenario elements, re-mixing them in new ways, looking for heretofore unseen connections and surprising combinatorial results. Sharp eyes could seek out and correct underlying problems of logic or fact. Organizations with limited resources and few connections to big thinkers would be able to craft scenario narratives of their own with a planet's worth of ideas at their fingertips.
in “Open Source Scenario Planning” http://openthefuture.com/2006/08/otf_core_open_source_scenario.html and http://www.worldchanging.com/archives//004246.html
“What is Open Foresight? We recently introduced the concept of ‘Open Foresight’ as a process we’re developing to analyze complex issues in an open and collaborative way, and to raise the bar on public discourse and forward-focused critical thinking […] In simple terms, open foresight is a process for building visions of the future together.”
The ideal approach to the future combines free speculation and data-driven deduction. Scenarios are an ideal tool for strategic dialogue – Karl Schroeder
Recently I have been interviewing a variety of high profile futurists and up-and-coming strategists on how online approaches are transforming scenario planning and futures work.
Diagram prepared with VUE