Scenario planning and foresight : advancing theory and improving practice

Wright, George and O'Brien, Frances and Meadows, Maureen and Tapinos, Efstathios and Pyper, Neil (2020) Scenario planning and foresight : advancing theory and improving practice. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 159. 120220. ISSN 0040-1625 (

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In this Introduction, we review the logic that underpinned the earlier call for papers and provide a structured sequence for the contents of the sixteen papers that comprise the special issue. Use of particular foresight tools can have predictable effects on strategy making – providing positive changes in mental models and challenging business-as-usual approaches but, more negatively, can also serve to narrow and shape managers’ anticipations of the future. Any scenario activity necessarily involves simplification and evaluation processes in knowledge elicitation that need to be carefully monitored for effectiveness. In addition, historical analysis of the focal industry’s use of “recipes” can give the scenario practitioner insights into the nature of unfolding futures. Inside the scenario development process, verbal and visual analysis of face-to-face interactions within the scenario team can give insights into process issues and difficulties, and an organisation’s prior involvement with scenario activity may give insights into the likely time-demands of any planned activities. Additionally, stakeholders from different organisations can be facilitated to work effectively together in foresight activities. Such facilitated activities can be used to both develop policy and achieve commonly-held objectives. Two papers provide new guidance on the form of successful Delphi applications. Finally, typologies of both foresight methods/approaches and of intervention practices will allow the reflective practitioner to more fully appreciate the characteristics – both positive and negative – of a particular method and/or intervention type.


Wright, George ORCID logoORCID:, O'Brien, Frances, Meadows, Maureen, Tapinos, Efstathios and Pyper, Neil;