Scenarios are stories of the future, but
by communicating different visions of the future and
providing a focus for discussion about the course of society, they
inform decisions made today. They can be used to:
- Provoke debate
- Expand the range of options
- Expose contradictions in thought
- Clarify and communicate a technical analysis
- Expose uncertainties for future developments
- Evaluate policies in the face of an uncertain future
As coherent stories of possible futures, scenarios can engage peoples
imaginations. They give the
future a flavor and a personality that people can respond to
and hold in their minds.
In doing so, they can lead people to act differently than they might
otherwise have done.
Also, the process of scenario development engages the imagination
of participants. It can bring them to new insights and expose contradictions
in their thinking. One striking example is the Mont Fleur scenarios for
South Africa, in which the contradictions between a populist economic policy
and long-term financial stability were exposed in the Icarus scenario.
Finally, scenarios provide a record of coherent narratives of possible
futures, providing guiding documents that people can return to over time.