|Tutorial 2: Building Scenarios|
-- a university of arizona course on methods and approaches for studying the future
Scenarios are a way of developing alternative futures based on different combinations of assumptions, facts and trends, and area where more understanding is needed for your particular scenario project. They are called "scenarios" because they are like "scenes" in the theater - a series of differing views or presentations of the same general topic. Once you see several scenarios at the same time, you better understand your options or possibilities.
The number of scenarios should generally be kept small but not too small - four is my preferred number. If you have two, it suggests either or choice. Three suggests good, bad, and preferred. If you have 10 is to many to keep straight. Four is a good number because it gives enough diversity and avoids the problem of having two few. The length may vary, but a page or so is not bad - too short and there is too little content, too long and you get tired reading and trying to find the main point.
A very good set of scenarios might leave the reader wondering which is more likely or probably. That forces the reader to think more, and that is the whole point of a scenario - to learn more about alternative futures, so you can make better choices today. Of course, scenarios like this are difficult to build and the situation under study may not permit this cleaver approach. Finally, think up some cleaver names for your scenarios - so they have some style. Make your scenarios to educate, not to try an find the preferred future. A good set of scenarios would make it difficult for the reader to decide which is more likely or preferred.