Scenarios – Why and how

What are scenarios?

If you read the history books, you’ll find many examples of companies, public sectors and other organizations that have had problems or have missed opportunities because they hadn’t predicted significant societal changes. Some of the big events that can be mentioned are the two oil crises, the terror attack on 9/11 2001 and the fall of the Berlin wall.

Not many things are certain, except for the fact that in the coming years, there will be both examples of successes and failures that are mainly due to a changing world. This of course requires a lot from the decision makers and necessitates making the right decisions.

Experience with scenarios

This is where scenarios can come in as a method of analyzing the future before it happens.

Using scenarios is a well tested technique in the field of future studies and was, outside of military circles, first used systematically by Shell when the company was facing uncertainty over the developments in the power grids, prices and alternative energy production. Shell has since then used scenarios as a planning tool, but the Brent Spar case and a string of unforeseeable events show that the scenario technique also has its limitations. Fortunately there are other methods, such as wildcards and trend analysis that can handle these types of problems.

A contemplation tool

A scenario can be defined as a description of a possible and probable change. It’s not the only possibility nor does it need to be the most likely. A scenario’s most important quality is that it challenges the thinking in the organization where it is used. That is because scenarios are contemplation tools.

By presenting multiples scenarios on the changing future, you can create a frame that shows where and how the future might happen – the frame of possibilities or the How Might We frame. Within this frame you can navigate to and find the place that you’d most want the future to be and then try to affect the present to go in that direction. In this way you avoid making simple and one-dimensional assessments in favor of more full bodies scenarios.

The future in plural

When you read a scenario, you have to imagine that you’re in a place far in the future and that you’re looking back on the historical developments that have happened over a certain time period.

That way you create a possible future that you can focus on specifically. By making multiple scenarios or future historical stories, you create the possibility of actually assessing multiple futures at the same time. The very idea of treating the future in plural – that we can shape it – is a significant realization which is often most easily achieved by working with scenarios.

That also means that there’s nothing particularly complicated or strange in the scenario technique. It is more a question of common sense. Fremforsk has, via its founders and owners, worked with the scenario technique since the early 1990s and have made a list of requirements for good scenarios.

Navigate the future

The scenario technique is a way of thinking that acts as a catalyst for the analysis of the future. It’s not the goal to guess correctly, but to work out the scenarios that make it possible to navigate the future. It also produces the significant result that it establishes a shared frame of reference for discussions of the future.

The scenarios made by Fremforsk

The following outline is designed to give an overview of many of the scenarios of the future that have been worked on in Fremforsk and by CEO Jesper Bo Jensen

The Scenario outline is subdivided by year and supports the fact that Fremforsk and Jesper Bo Jensen were some of the first to develop and use this approach.

A scenario can be understood methodologically as a narrative about a possible future or development in a certain area. Oftentimes several scenarios will be proposed and with them, several possible avenues of exploration in a field of study.

Over the years, Fremforsk and Jesper Bo Jensen have participated in nearly 40 scenario processes, where more than 100 scenarios have been developed.

Outline of Scenarios of the Future

Three scenarios for railroad towns in 2040

- Made for Jan W. Hansen et al (2015)

1. The two main cities in 2040 and the transformed railroad town

2. The global villages’ country in 2030 – The growing railroads’ towns

3. Mini-metropolis and two large centres in 2030 – cleaning up the raildroad towns.

Three scenarios for pig production in 2030

- Agricultural guidance in the future for Seges (2015)

1. The probably

2. The possible

3. The preferable

Two scenarios for how Denmark will look in 25 years in 2040

- White Papers for Denmark on the Brink (2015)

1. Plurality in town and country

2. The Two City Denmark

Seges - Three scenarios for the future of the organization (2015)

Scenarios for future agricultural guidance and the agricultural production of the future – Process of building three scenarios and the criteria for each one.

Three scenarios for the developments in the elderly- and handicapped sectors in Aalborg municipality in 2020


1. The efficient business Aalborg municipality in 2020

2. The minimal municipality Aalborg in 2020

3. Brave New Aalborg municipality in 2020

Three scenarios for Local Government Denmark: Denmark in the year 2030

Demographics, business and scenarios on the development over the coming years (2014)

1. The two main cities in 2030

2. The global villages’ country in 2030

3. Many mini-metropolises and two large centres in 2030

Two scenarios for the potential in Danish agriculture in the future

- Made for Sustainable agriculture

1. Production potential

2. Continued Regulation

Folkekirkens Nødhjælp/DanChurchAid: The world in 2025

Scenarios (2013)

Multi-power rivalry in an interdependent World

Three scenarios for Copenhagen Technical School


1. The social school

2. The practical is back – Craftsman school

3. Competition school.

Three scenarios for the need for infrastructure in Denmark 2025-2040


1. Hourmodel via Storebælts Bridge

2. Oval Denmark’s Kattegat connection via Samsø

3. Circle Denmark’s Kattegat connection via Ebeltoft-Sealand Point

Three scenarios made for Fåborg-Midtfyn


1. Centralization

2. Local business and cooperation

3. The decentralized tourism

Region Nord – Scenario Workshop


Process with workshops on the development of scenarios for a workgroup in Region Nord

Three scenarios for research strategies in the future

- Made for Byg-DTU (2007)

1. The East is red hot

2. Cold Competition

3. The West is the Best

Scenarios for the financial sector in the future

- Made for Finansforbundet (2005)

1. Survival

2. In the fast track

3. A competition society

Three scenarios for the housing market


1. The catastrophe scenario

2. And they lived happily for many years on the gross value.

3. The unlikely scenario – It’ll be fine…

Documentation needs in the medical industry

- Four scenarios for the development. (2004)

1. Global medicine

2. The Big Winner

3. Us and Them

4. Global Struggle

Four scenarios for the retail trade in the future

- Made for Nykredit (2004)

1. Consumer freedom

2. Liberal stagnation

3. Tough status quo

4. Growth under control

Three scenarios for Bang & Olufsen


1. Sculpture – More thing

2. Authenticity – More original

3. Thing-death – Virtual sound

Four scenarios for the future of the housing market

2015 (2002)

1. The efficient society

2. The near society

3. The polarized society

4. The established society

The Academy for Research


1. Scenarios for the future demand for Ph.d.s in Denmark

2. Scenarios on business development, economic trends and the demand for Ph.d.s

Stark - Three scenarios for De Danske Trælaster Detail


- Scenarios for the building depot of the future and on the handyman of the future in cooperation with Bergsøe 4 and the development of a platform and guiding principle.

- Scenario process with three scenarios, focus scenarios and scenario days with strategy choices.

1. The new trends in society

2. The new naturalism

3. The new Inventiveness

West Sealand’s municipality


- Shape the future – A project designed to create visions and paths for the West Sealand municipality in the future.

Three scenarios for Åskov Municipality


1. Nearness

2. Network

3. Efficiency

Three scenarios for tax consultancy in the future

- Made for Deloitte & Touche (1999)

1. Shared Taxes

2. Complicated Taxes

3. Taxes across borders

Himmerland’s business development


- Business developments in Himmerland in the future

- Three scenarios, scenario processes and subsequently development of focus scenario and choice of strategy

Ministry of Housing


- Scenarios for the demand for housing in the future – Various outcomes and analytical documentation

Three scenarios for Gram Commercial


1. The personal market

2. The political market

3. The functional market

Three scenarios for EUC Syd’s strategy


1. Efficiency

2. Solidarity

3. Creativity



- Financial clients in the future

- Three scenarios, scenario process and subsequently development of a focus scenario and choice of strategy

Business Center Midtjylland

(Seven municipalities such as Herning, Ikast, Trehøje, Åskov etc.) (1997)

- Growth and development in central Jutland in the future – A process with politicians, businessmen and other stakeholders.

- Three scenarios, scenario process and subsequently development of focus scenario and choice of strategy

Sampension KP


- Scenarios for developments in clients in the future at KP pension.



- Scenarios on the future of the financial sector and the consequences for employees.

- Developing scenarios and presenting them at member meetings.

Danske Bank


- Teaching the scenario process to- and developing scenarios for a large group of executives in Danske Bank

BEC (Bank’s IT Central)

- Scenarios on the bank’s marketing cooperations

- The financial structure and customer profile in the future – Scenarios on the time till 2007

- Three scenarios with three different outcomes and subsequent scenario process and choice of focus scenario as well as strategies for scenarios and focus scenarios.

1. Situider

2. Cool Cash

3. Diversity

Three scenarios for Unibank (now Nordea)

- Clients in the financial sector in the future – Scenarios for client development from 1993-2003

- Three scenarios and subsequently scenario process and choice of focus scenario

Three scenarios for AF Sønderjylland


- Job market and job market politics in the future and the significance for AF Sønderjylland

- Three scenarios, scenario process and subsequent development of focus scenario and choice of strategy

Three scenarios for DMI

(Dronningborg Industries) (1994-1995)

- The job market of the future and machines including combine harvesters

- Three scenarios and subsequently a focus scenario as well as a strategy discussion and choice of strategy in a scenario process for the DMI management.

Three scenarios for sewing machine makers.


- Scenarios of the future seller and types of sewing machines

- Three scenarios and a scenario day.

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