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The FuturesToolkit of the UK Local Government Association

The FuturesToolkit was commissioned by the UK Local Government Association, for the purpose of shifting local government activites from reaction to anticipation. There are several related documents in the toolkit, collected at the Local Government Association web site. The methodology document [1] contains a step-by-step description of scenario development. It also includes descriptions of alternatives futures techniques, with their pros and cons, and is well worth reading.

Actors

The authors suggest allocating two to three days, or a series of half-day sessions for the facilitator and the participants to meet and work. They also remind the facilitator that some means of recording the proceedings is a necessity.

Procedure

  1. Decide on the system or area of concern the scenarios will be about.
  2. Decide on the timeframe for the scenarios. The timeframe should be “short enough to be a reasonably foreseeable future, but long enough to encompass significant changes that are expected to impinge on the area of concern.”
  3. Decide how many scenarios you want. (The authors suggest two to four.)
  4. Identify the driving forces. That is, identify the factors that are important in influencing the future of the area of concern.
  5. Analyze the driving forces. The authors suggest categorizing driving forces by whether they are “high or low uncertainty” and “high or low impact”:
  6. [There is a missing step in the original document, due to printing problems. Apparently, in this step the user develops and runs a model to build a baseline scenario.]
  7. Rerun the model with a range of different future values and assumptions.
  8. Create a working title for each scenario, both as a useful shorthand and to aid adoption by the group.
  9. Draft each scenario. Bear in mind that they must be credible, useful and intelligible. Be prepared to make several drafts.
  10. Apply scenarios to decisions.

References

[1] Local Government Association. nd (2000?). Futures Methods. FuturesToolkit. http://www.lga.gov.uk/Documents/toolkit/futures%20methods.pdf