Scenario planning brings together experts from a wide range of fields to develop of a series of stories that describe different but plausible futures. All of the scenarios are mutually exclusive and represent possibilities rather than predictions.
Scenario planning can help innovators and their partners imagine, prepare for, and recognize a broader set of possible windows of opportunities to innovate particularly in rapidly changing situations. Building on system mapping, scenario planning can help you envision the various ways in which relationships might change, recognize the key driving forces of the future for the issue and their uncertainties, what elements would trigger creation of different scenarios in the future, or how certain stakeholders might disappear from or come into relevance.
Scenario planning aims to create a compelling set of future stories that you want to take forward, but the process of creating them itself can be beneficial for identifying specific need and opportunities for innovation, particularly within the frame of resilience.
|Core Team||Program personnel who have the intimate knowledge of the program and who can provide the critical eyes for revision|
|Innovation Cycle||Can be used in any stage, but particularly useful when a process innovation is expected|
|Key Roles||Program experts: Bring the deep knowledge about the program and its system map
Facilitator: Engage participants to effectively surface the plausible future situations
Domain experts: Depending on the further research to collect the required data, relevant experts may need to be involved, e.g., interviews of potential new beneficiaries
|Essential Tools||Visualization of the scenario: Represent or draw the key storyline of the scenarios for effective sharing
Criical reviews: Review and refine scenarios with various parties, e.g., intended beneficiaries for feedback, or grantees for feasibility
|Outputs||Scenarios reflecting a broad set of innovation opportunities|
|Cost & Time||Cost: If you decide to use - visualization experts.
Time: You are in control, but involving various stakeholders and partners to join the debate takes time for coordination and synthesis.
Assumptions and Conditions
Building future scenarios requires you to think divergently first. A helpful starting point to build scenarios that are distinct, diverse, and plausible is to have all the potential influences laid out, e.g., through the system map.
You need to list your assumptions on how future will unfold, along with conditions that you want to build your scenarios accordingly. This process, done in a team, may create a healthy opportunity to reveal different viewpoints that may exist among people who are involved in the initiative.
Typically you would come up with multiple scenarios that are mutually exclusive that can distinctively show how the change in specific conditions can generate different outcomes.
You will need to also maintain the overview level if you are adequately covering the range of possibilities. It may be helpful to find external thought leaders to help shaping the scenarios with different viewpoints.
Debate and Selection
Scenarios can help various stages of innovation, but it can be a powerful tool to invite various stakeholders and beneficiaries to voice their opinions on specific issues or conditions that can shape the future.
Multiple scenarios also provide a perspective on shaping stakeholders’ opinions on what needs to be done, and which scenario could be considered as the ideal vs. worst one. This can assist in setting the goal and vision for the next steps.
Scenarios can be written out, but visualizing the scenarios with illustrations, diagrams, or in storyboards may make them more accessible to a wider audience easily, if you have the need to do so. You can also consider utilizing experts in building storyboards, visual illustrations, animations, or even simple movies to communicate the content of the scenario effectively.