scenario technique

The scenario technique was founded in France in the 1950s by the philosopher Gaston Berger. It really became known after the oil crisis in the 1970s, because Pierre Wack from Shell used the scenario technique to prepare Shell for the oil crisis. This meant that Shell, as the only one of the "Seven Sisters", came out of the oil crisis strengthened. Pierre Wack belonged to the French school of scenario technique. If you want to understand the scenario technique, I recommend that you read Michel Godet's book: "Strategic Foresight", which is freely available at

In the French scenario technique, the scenarios are different images of the outside world, which the decision-makers cannot influence, and which define future threats and opportunities. There is therefore a focus on the events that can change the current external trends and/or that change the way the outside world balances between different objectives (climate, environment, economy, community, security of supply, etc.). In what follows, we call them "Surroundings scenarios".

After the oil crises in the 1980s, many scenarios have been developed based on different strategic courses, where the decision-makers themselves can choose which strategy they want to follow. The scenarios consist of different strategic paths to a given goal. In what follows, we call them "Strategy scenarios".

Surroundings scenarios
History shows that events occur periodically that change some important megatrends and/or change the way society balances various societal goals. Therefore, it makes sense to imagine which probable events could change the framework conditions for the strategic choices you have to make. With this knowledge, you can improve the chosen strategy so that it becomes more robust and/or flexible.

Surroundings scenarios must meet the following requirements. They have to be:

  • Event-oriented (Scenarios differ from ordinary forecasts in that they are discontinuous and contain some events whose consequences cannot be described by ordinary projections)
  • Consistent (Scenarios are consistent pictures of the future)
  • Probable (The key decision makers must believe that the scenarios can become reality)
  • Relevant and significant (The scenarios describe framework conditions that are decisive for the strategic decision-making basis)
  • Transparency (The scenarios must be documented so that users can see how they came about)

The biggest challenge in making surroundings scenarios is the time the process takes. The good thing is that the benefits are much greater than the costs.

The fall groups are:

  • You go into solution mode too quickly
  • It is not about creating consensus in the group, but about mapping out different possibilities
  • The difficult part is not agreeing on the choices. The real challenge lies in ensuring that participants ask the right questions
  • A problem that is well described and where the participants all have ownership of the problem is half solved

Strategy scenarios
The strategy scenarios describe different strategic ways to achieve a given goal. It can, for example, be a strategic investment in a specific energy type or technology. The prerequisite is that the current external trends, which the decision-makers themselves cannot influence, are unchanged compared to the present.

The strategy scenarios help the decision-makers to become sharper about their common priorities.

Quantification of scenarios
There is no doubt that the strategy scenarios must be quantified and priced. But there is disagreement about whether the "Surroundings" scenarios should also be quantified.

On the e2g platform, we have decided that the Surroundings scenarios must be quantified. Both because it is necessary to keep an eye on which of the scenarios constitute the most likely projection, because via the quantification process you ensure that the scenarios are consistent and because you get inspiration for new innovations via quantification and model analyses.