Scenarios - what are they and why do we use them?

To start off with, it is important to remember that scenarios are one of the tools that are used the most by futurists in order to gain more knowledge about the future.

To put it simply, a scenario is a picture of the future. They are not meant to be the comprehensive image of the future, but to rather focus our attention on one or two specific aspects of reality.

We use scenarios for different reasons. Sometimes we use them to enable us to understand reality better, other times we might set ourselves a future goal and then think about how to achieve that goal. A reason for doing the scenario exercise is to gain more knowledge about some uncertainty and to explore the future.

Scenarios enable us to overcome limitations, and we can now incorporate simultaneously, not only quantitative data but also qualitative data. Scenarios are useful when you have a very high degree of certainty about something.

Let’s consider the scenario of a flower growing on a plant. What do you think are the possible future scenario’s for that flower? Discuss at least 4 options.

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This article is from the free online course:

Futurism and Business: Dealing with Complexity

University of Stellenbosch Business School Executive Development