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Scenario planning

Last updated October 6, 2023

What is scenario planning?

Scenario planning is a strategic foresight and decision-making tool used by organizations to anticipate and prepare for potential future developments and uncertainties. It involves creating a set of plausible and well-defined scenarios that describe different future situations or environments. These scenarios help organizations explore various possible outcomes and develop strategies to adapt and thrive in different circumstances.

What are the stages?

The process of scenario planning typically involves the following steps:

  • Step 1: Identify key drivers

Identify the key external factors, trends, and uncertainties that are likely to shape the future environment of the organization.

  • Step 2: Develop scenarios

Based on these key drivers, create a set of plausible scenarios that represent different possible future outcomes. Each scenario should be a coherent and internally consistent story about how the future might unfold under specific conditions.

  • Step 3: Analyzing and exploring scenarios

For each scenario, conduct a detailed analysis of how it would impact the organization. Consider the implications for markets, customers, competitors, operations, finances, and other relevant aspects. It’s also relevant to identify potential opportunities and threats that could arise in each scenario.

  • Step 4: Adapting and developing strategies

Develop strategies and action plans that are tailored to each scenario. These strategies should be flexible and adaptable to the unique challenges and opportunities posed by each possible future. Create a portfolio of strategies that allows the organization to navigate uncertainties and changes effectively.

Why is scenario planning important?

Scenario planning helps organizations navigate uncertainty by considering multiple potential futures. It aids in identifying risks, opportunities, and challenges that might arise. It also encourages proactive thinking and strategic flexibility.


Forecasting aims to predict a single future outcome based on historical data and trends. Scenario planning, on the other hand, explores multiple potential futures by considering different combinations of uncertainties and their impacts.

While there’s no fixed number, creating 3 to 4 scenarios is common. This provides a diverse range of futures to consider without overwhelming the planning process.

No, scenarios are not predictions. They are narratives that describe plausible futures based on different assumptions. They help organizations prepare for a range of possibilities rather than predicting a single outcome.