We can’t predict the future but we can imagine it. This is a planning technique where you will imagine varied scenarios for the future as a way to plan for what may come.
This is a team sport to be played with markers and sticky notes. Give yourselves 30 minutes.
- Pick a problem space to focus on in your forecasting.
- Ask everyone to jot down on sticky notes three things that have happened in the problem space within the last year.
- Read each event aloud, discard duplicates, and post all the unique events on the wall for everyone to consider.
- Individually, or in pairs and threesomes, forecast a scenario. What next? Given what has happened before, imagine an event that might happen next year. Jot it down on a sticky note. You might imagine an unsurprising event or something rare and unlikely. Any possible event or milestone is a useful basis for imagining possible futures. Then what? Imagine an event that would be triggered by that, jot it down, and start a row of sticky notes representing an unfolding scenario. Then what? Then what?
- Extend your scenario until it spans 3 to 5 years.
- Assign this scenario an appropriate title.
You can do this alone but small groups will produce more and more varied scenarios. Typically, a group will split up into small teams and work in parallel to imagine several different scenarios. Compare scenarios. Are there noteworthy trends, patterns, opportunities, threats? How would each of these scenarios affect your organization, its stakeholders and projects?