Path: Identify

Identify new opportunities in the future

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:

  1. Prepare for the future(s)
  2. Experience the future(s)
  3. Work with the future(s)

It is recommended you read through all three steps before you embark on your expedition.

Step 1 —
Prepare for the future(s)

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.

  • What are we exploring in the future? (The future of…)
  • Why are we doing it?
  • What are the limitations?
  • What is the output going to be used for?

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: AlphaBetaGamma, 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:

  • What drives value-creation? Is value-creation driven by the needs and powers of the market or the decisions of society?
  • How are we organised? Do we depend on top-down, robust, centralised, structures, or bottom-up, agile, distributed, networks?

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).

You’ll need:

  • 1 set of reflection cards per participant
  • 1 scenario poster per group (aim for 3-6 people per group ideally)
  • A bunch of initiative cards (at least 1 per participant, sticky notes work just as fine though)
  • Markers or pens

Step 2 —
Experience the future(s)

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:

  1. Introduce the scenario kit
    Explain what this is why we’re doing this
  2. Introduce the scenario matrix
    How does the matrix work and what are the dimensions?
  3. Introduce Alpha
    What are the major themes of the scenario? You can read out the description of the scenario.
  4. Listen to Alpha
    Listen to the narrated stories you selected beforehand
  5. Reflect individually on Alpha
    Fill out the reflection card for the scenario: What are the opportunities and challenges in the scenario?
  6. Repeat step 3-5 for each scenario
  7. Move on to the next exercise

Step 3 —
Work with the future(s)

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).

Part 1: Scenario poster

The following exercise works best in groups but it can also be completed solo. You’ll need a scenario poster for each group.

  1. Prepare materials
    If you haven’t already, prepare your scenario posters (1 per group). Either print out the one included in the Living Futures Scenario Kit or recreate it on a whiteboard, a flip-over, or similar. Get some markers ready as well as some post-its (it might help to get people involved — sometimes writing directly on the poster can feel daunting).

  2. Create groups
    Gather participants into groups of about 3-6 people

  3. Fill Scenario Poster
    Ask people to begin answering the questions of the scenario poster for each scenario:
    • What is our role? (what is our role in society, our eco system, or local community etc.),
    • What are we offering? (What do we have on the shelves, how are we helping people, or what is our business based on etc.)
    • Who are we collaborating with? (Who are we working with, who are important actors in our system etc.)

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.

Part 2: Potential initiatives

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.

  1. Prepare materials
    If you haven’t already, prepare your initiative cards (at least 1 per participant). Either print out the template included in the Living Futures Scenario Kit or hand out a bunch of sticky notes along with something to write with.

  2. Discuss reflections
    Have a round of immediate reflections based on the last exercise and your trip to the futures. Typically people will have a lot of things to say at this point but if that isn’t the case try asking them:
    • What future is the most attractive to you personally, and is it also the most attractive future for your group?
    • If you look around you, do you see signals that we as a society is moving towards one or more of the scenarios in particular?
    • What surprised you the most when you visited the four futures?
    • Are there any areas of the futures you’d like to dig deeper into?

  3. Individual exercise: Potential Initiatives
    Hand out the potential initiative cards and ask people to take a moment to reflect on the following question: “Based on what we’ve been through today, what is something that would make sense we started doing tomorrow?“
    Answers can be anything from adopting a new practice, or adjusting how something is already done, to reevaluating cultural values, or developing a new product.

  4. Discuss initiatives
    Ask people to share their thoughts on ideas that they think would make sense to initiate today.

  5. Final remarks
    Give people a chance to share any final reflections on the workshop before calling it a day.

  6. Recap & follow up
    After your workshop make sure to capture and process all the input and share it with your group along with your thoughts on what to do with it.

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.