Scenario testing

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Scenario testing is a way to test alternative (hypothetical) futures so as to make better choices today. Scenario testing is useful to identify general, broad, driving forces, which are applicable to all scenarios,


Invite participants who have knowledge of, or are affected by, the proposal or issue of interest. Invite participants to identify the underlying paradigms or unwritten laws of change; trends or driving forces and collect into general categories (e.g. economy, socio/political and wildcards or uncertainties). Consider how these might affect a situation, either singly or in combination, using these steps:

  • Review the big picture
  • Review general approaches to future studies
  • Identify what you know and what you don’t know
  • Select possible paradigm shifts and use them as an overall guide
  • Cluster trends and see which driving forces are most relevant to your scenario
  • Create alternative scenarios (similar to alternate scenes in a play) by mixing wildcards with trends and driving forces. Keep the number of scenarios small (four is ideal because it avoids the ‘either’ ‘or’ choice of two, and the good/bad/medium choice of three).
  • Write a brief report that states assumptions and future framework; provides observations and conclusions, gives a range of possibilities, and focuses on the next steps coming out of this study. Each scenario should be about one page.


The author of this article is UNIVE team
The article has been reviewed by Plan Bleu and PAP/RAC
Please note that others may also have edited the contents of this article.