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Becker’s Method for Policy Scenarios

Harold S. Becker was an early proponent of the scenario approach, and was a cofounder of The Futures Group. In 1983 he published a paper in Technological Forecasting and Social Change describing scenarios as an important new tool [1]. His “steps for preparing scenarios,” as presented in that paper, are reproduced below.


Unspecified/flexible (although he refers to “an author,” so he may have a lone scenario analyst in mind).


  1. Select the basic characteristics: the few conditions most important to shaping the system or marketplace being studied.
  2. Set the possible range of values that will be studied for the basic characteristics, if possible, in quantified terms.
  3. Select the number of scenarios that will be studied: combination of the basic characteristics that are internally consistent and sufficiently plausible.
  4. Designate the indicators and trends that will be treated in each scenario.
  5. List important events: developments necessary for the conditions of each scenario to come about and those important to shaping the indicators and trends.
  6. Estimate probabilities of each event in each scenario and impacts of each on the indicators: likelihood of occurance and influence on each indicator.
  7. Project the indicators: quantified values vs. time.
  8. Prepare narratives: describe evolution of conditions in each scenario spotlighting key events/developments, important trends, implications for the system or marketplace studied and, where possible, implications for strategies, policies and actions.


[1] Becker, Harold S. 1983. “Scenarios: A Tool of Growing Importance to Policy Analysts in Government and Industry,” Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 23, 95-120.