Scenario Planning

An approach towards planning developed by PeterSchwartz? and others at Royal Dutch/Shell. The approach uses the development of scenarios prepare for the future. The maxim is that we can not predict the future, but if we are able to look at forces and develop detailed pictures of a group of different possible futures, we are able to devise strategies which will win regardless of which course or combination of courses reality takes.

ScenarioPlanning can be used for business, career planning, and life planning in general. My experiences have led me to believe that it is very useful in software development planning and framework development as well. I use it as part of GuerrillaDomainAnalysis. -- MichaelFeathers

References: TheArtOfTheLongView? by PeterSchwartz?.

Note: Current Shell Scenarios are available on the net at

I think it is interesting and significant that Scenario Planning is exactly the process used by the military to create plans for hypothetical warfare. It is essentially a PaperPrototype of a very complex domain. StoryBoarding is another PaperPrototype kind of entity which is very effective and used all the time by Hollywood to create complex cinema. Both of these methods are underutilized in the software industry ... they are very effective and relatively inexpensive. -- RaySchneider

I read somewhere it is indeed the military that started these planning exercises. I think the term WarGames are also used in the corporate world where companies want to explore scenarios and responses quickly.

Scenario Planning in practice

ScenarioPlanning can have a big payout, especially during periods of discontinuous change caused by paradigm shift. It was said during 1980s while other Oil Companies were planning for higher prices, Shell included a scenario of falling prices and was subsequently well equipped to dealing with the consequence of an unexpected crash.

I have located a 1999 thesis on the theory and practice of ScenarioPlanning at, for people interesting in a 200 page plus document. It includes a lot of related activities and has cases, including the above quoted success story at Shell.

A shorter treatment of the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) approach, which is included above, can be seen at

Those amongst us who are philophosopy minded may be interested in how Existentialism relate to ScenarioPlanning at the site

See also: UseCase

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