The aim of this module is to:

  • use the STEEP trend analysis from module 2 to develop different futures called scenarios to explore operating environments of growth, constraint, collapse or transformation
  • shortlist the scenarios by thinking about how likely they might be and how prepared the organisation is to respond.


By the end of this module, you’ll understand a range of potential scenarios that may impact your work in the future.

Activity in this module

Scenario development of alternative futures

In this activity, you’ll think about 4 scenario types to develop alternative future scenarios.

You may decide to develop:

  • more than one scenario for each type
  • no scenario for one of the types
  • a combination of the scenario types.

We’ve adapted this activity from the work of Jim Dator, Professor of Future Studies.

Scenario 1: Growth

In this scenario, you look at a future where your organisation has a period of growth, such as increased demand for your services or products.

This is the most common scenario people expect for their organisation.

Organisations often develop strategies with this assumption in mind.

People usually feel optimistic in a growth scenario.

Scenario 2: Transformation

In this scenario, you look at a future where your organisation is transformed in a big way. This could be the way you work or that the work you do changes significantly.

Your transformation may be caused by:

  • a new technology, such as artificial intelligence technology
  • an event, such as remote working in a pandemic
  • something that occurs quickly.

People may feel surprised in this scenario.

Scenario 3: Constraint

In this scenario, you look at a future where your organisation’s work is limited or constrained in some way.

This could be due to financial constraints, a shortage of skilled employees or a change in legislation limiting how or where your business can operate.

Some people may feel challenged in this scenario, but others may see opportunities for innovation and efficiency.

Scenario 4: Collapse

In this scenario, you look at a future where your organisation is unable to deliver on its work and your work offering may be quite different.

Examples of this might be a product or service that is discontinued or outsourced.

People may be feeling concerned or distressed in this scenario.

How to do this activity

To do this activity, you’ll need the:

Alternative futures – defining scenarios template (PowerPoint, 1.1MB)
Alternative futures – consolidating scenarios template (PowerPoint, 1.1MB)

Step 1: Select a trend

Use the scenario development of:

Alternative futures – defining scenarios template (PowerPoint, 1.1MB)

Select a trend from your STEEP analysis completed in module 2

Think about which future or futures this may happen in using the 4 scenario types of growth, transformation, constraints and collapse.

Step 2: Add other trends

Add some of the other trends to the situation to build on your scenario.

Step 3: Develop the scenario

Consider what this scenario would look like and bring the scenario to life by considering questions like:

  • What would life be like in this scenario in 3 to 5 years?
  • What are the changes to expectations, tasks, roles and day to day operations you may see for your organisation?
  • How does this align with your organisation or team strategy or vision?

Discuss and note down the changes to the way you work or deliver your service or products

Step 4: Come up with a name

Develop a name or a headline that describes your scenario.

Step 5: Develop your scenarios more

Use the:

Alternative futures – consolidating scenarios template (PowerPoint, 1.1MB)

Develop your scenarios more by asking:

  • what will trigger this scenario?
  • what will the main activities of the team be?
  • what will the success measures be?

How to run this module as a workshop

If you are running this module as a workshop, you’ll need:

Module 3 workshop slides, facilitator guide and speaking notes (PowerPoint, 1.2MB)

Workshop facilitator tips for this module

If you run this as a workshop:

  • use the outcomes of your STEEP analysis from module 2 to develop your scenarios
  • give everyone an opportunity to generate ideas on different scenarios
  • encourage everyone to give as much detail as possible in their scenarios
  • think if you want to have 4 groups who each develop a scenario based on the scenario types
  • think if you want to set post-workshop work for your groups, where each group develops their scenario more

Workshop timeframes

Run workshop: 2 hours

Develop scenarios further in small groups: 1 hour

Total: 3 hours