Executive training   Executive MPA  

Scenario-building and foresight

7-8 December 2023 | Skills training

Decision-making in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world can quickly become a costly and risky endeavour – especially in the realm of foreign and security affairs. To lower risks in decision-making, to widen decision makers’ perspectives and to provide them with policy options, foresight analysis is one of the most powerful analytic methods in an analyst’s quiver. Foresight analysis helps analysts and political advisors undertake estimative analysis, which involves thinking systematically about the various ways the future is likely to unfold and what is most likely to determine the eventual outcome. The objective of foresight analysis is not to predict the future, but to generate a solid set of scenarios that can bound the range of plausible alternative futures.

Foresight analysis is most useful when a situation is complex and the outcomes too uncertain to trust a single prediction. It has proven highly effective in helping analysts, decision makers, and policymakers contemplate multiple futures, challenge their assumptions and anticipate surprise developments by identifying “unknown unknowns” – i.e., factors, forces, or players that one did not realize were important or influential before commencing the exercise.

Course participants will be introduced to a variety of structured analytical techniques (SATs): cognitive biases; key assumptions check, key driver analysis, actors and stakeholder mapping, scenario development (2x2 matrix), indicator development and evaluation and strategy development.

Main topics and learning objectives:

  • Understanding the difference between prediction, prognosis, forecasting and foresight
  • Getting acquainted with the concept of cognitive biases and intuitive traps and how they prevent human beings from thinking clearly ('fast and slow thinking')
  • Familiarisation with the six main structured analytic techniques (with an emphasis on strategic foresight and scenario thinking)
  • Learning how to conduct a full strategic foresight cycle

Target group

Mid-career managers in global risk units (private sector); policy planning staff (public sector); think tankers (geopolitics)

This seminar is offered in the open enrolment programme and as part of the Executive MPA programme.