Alternative Future's Analysis will help you analyse a range of possible futures in situations where there is a lot of complexity, or a high degree of uncertainty around data and outcomes.

Use this to...

  • Create a plausible set of outcomes.
  • Identify combinations of uncertain factors.
  • Calculate costs, risks and opportunities of potential outcomes.
  • Challenge assumptions and anticipate surprising developments.

Try this...

No time like the present! This is a complex technique, so start Brainstorming possible futures a few days before you get together.

Need an expert? If your situation is particularly complex you might want to bring in scenario-development experts who can help you work as a team to create detailed futures.

Watch out for...

Keep your options open. This technique uses uncertainty and complexity to create a set of possible outcomes. It’s not meant to predict any one outcome.

Expect the unexpected! You’re dealing with ambiguity so keep an open mind and encourage your team to share their views, no matter how unlikely.


  1. Find out what the central issue is around your business theme. Interview experts on the subject. What do they think the challenges and gaps are?
  2. Bring in some internal and external subject experts to brainstorm the factors that could affect your business theme. Cognitive diversity fuels innovation!
  3. Choose the two most important factors and create an axis for each, marking the most likely future endpoints. Challenge the group during this stage. Leverage experience.
  4. Draw up a futures matrix by crossing the two axes. The resulting four sections of your matrix form the basis of your alternative futures.
  5. Imagine the ways in which your different futures might occur. Can you develop a set of signposts that would indicate a certain future?
  6. Consider how your current strategies might fare in each future against this business theme. Can you identify questions to data that will help you gain foresight here?

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