The future can help us get new perspectives on the present. The scenario kit is an exciting way to kick start an ideation process with thought-provoking ideas from the future. You can do it alone but we strongly recommend getting together as a group. The most valuable ideas often emerge from the discussions.
This guide is just one example of how you can use the scenario kit for identifying new opportunities for action. It is written for a facilitator, acting as a guide to the future. It uses a few design tools that we’ve found to be helpful over the last couple of years working with futures. We encourage you to bring together a diverse group as it gives the most interesting discussions. The exercises are, however, designed for groups who are investigating the future of the same “thing”. The tools work much the same whether you’re interested in the future of a company, the future of your city, or the future of book clubs.
The following process is built around a single workshop with a group (about 3 hours). It is diveded into three steps; before, during, and after you visit the future:
It is recommended you read through all three steps before you embark on your expedition.
Like with any other trip, you need to do a few things before you head off into the future. This short section will make sure you and and your group are prepared. It will ask you a few questions to think about before you move on, give you some background on the scenario kit, and tell you what materials to prepare.
Try and answer the following questions before getting started. If you’re doing this as a collaborative exercise (as you really should be), make sure everyone is one the same page before you begin.
Once you’ve identified the area of interest go through the different stories from the scenarios and pick out your lineup of narrators. We recommend about three speakers per scenario and using the same speakers in all four scenarios to really highlight the contrasts.
The scenario kit is built around four scenarios: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta. Each representing an alternative version of a society in 2050. Each scenario ultimately aims to give visitors a glimpse of another human experience: What it feels like living in this world rather than only describing the large-scale implications.
The scenarios are built from a 2×2 matrix with two dimensions. A popular approach, adapted from foresight and scenario planning. Each axis in the matrix represents a major uncertainty about the future. Two questions we don’t know the answer to:
If you draw up both either/or-questions as two dimensions on the matrix you’re left with four quadrants with four unique combinations: The four scenarios.
The underlying matrix — click image to expand.
Different dimensions would yield different scenarios. This can make some people hesitate: “What if the future is nothing like any of the scenarios? Where is the data? Which one is most probable?”
The honest answer is that the future, most likely, won’t be anything like any of the scenarios we’re visiting. But that is besides the point. We’re not trying to project the most probable future; we’re trying to use alternative plausible futures to stimulate new perspectives on the present.
For your coming session you’ll need three resources for your group: Reflection cards (A5 size) and Initiative cards (A5 size) for everyone as well as a scenario poster (A1 size) for each group.
You can find all three under “downloads”. They can all be downloaded and printed out but none are so complicated, however, that they cannot easily be recreated either by hand (i.e. on paper, a flip-over, or on a whiteboard) or digitally (i.e. shared document, virtual whiteboards, or similar).
The simplest way to experience the scenarios is to sit down together and go through one scenario at a time, listening to the stories you find interesting.
For this part of the journey you’ll need your reflection cards. One set per participant.
We recommend the following approach:
After you’ve reflected on the stories you’ve listened to, it’s time to put them to work. For this guide you’ll use two design tools; the scenario poster and the initiative cards (which could easily exchanged for sticky notes).
The following exercise works best in groups but it can also be completed solo. You’ll need a scenario poster for each group.
Groups are free to start where ever they want but the goal should be for each group to fill out all the boxes on the poster. Try to give the groups at least 60 minutes to get through it all.
Next, you’ll reflect together and discuss potential initiatives that could be started today. To do this you’ll need a bunch of potential initiatives cards (at least one per participant) or some sticky notes.
If you’re interested in doing more with the scenarios, please have a look at the other guides as well as the files section where you can find inspiration for many other exercises.