Chapter 8. World Building with Scenarios

Everyone naturally thinks in scenarios. With every goal that we plan and every decision we make, we are subconsciously playing out scenarios in our head so that we can be prepared. We do this by asking “What if?” questions: What if this happens? How will I respond? What if this doesn’t happen? How will I respond then? Throughout our lifetime we’re able to quickly visualize scenarios in our head and make decisions about which are most likely to occur, which we might want to be prepared for, and which can drive different outcomes. And as those scenarios present themselves in reality, we are able to face them either with a conscious plan or with some understanding of what to do next. Without this internal scenario planning, we might end up being surprised by and unprepared for certain events and have to make decisions on the spot. Sometimes that works out well for us, and at other times it does not. The more scenarios we consider, the less surprised we might be in the future. In terms of Strategic Foresight, scenarios are merely visualizations of stories that could play out in the future. They have themes, dependencies, emotions, constraints, and many other facets. We visualize them in words or images so that we can investigate what we might do if or when they arrive.

Let’s say we are driving to a state park in a rental car, and there are long stretches of highway with few gas stations. Our gas is running low, but we think we can make it ...

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