Questioning Scenarios

by Sohail Inayatullah


With a lead article from Graham Molitor, this symposium on scenario planning brings together scenario planning practitioners and theorists to debate the question: Is scenario planning worth the effort? Molitor, with his fifty years as a futurist argues that scenario planning is not worth the effort. He writes: “I can’t recall any personal experience with scenario exercises that was worth the time and effort spent. Among major companies, business groups, and government offices I never saw scenarios make any major contribution or breakthrough despite what some colleagues brag about.” 1 Worse, for Molitor, scenarios reinforce the present, thus defeating the purpose of most futuristic projects, which is to create a distance from the present so the present and thereby future (and even the interpretation of the past) can be transformed. He writes: “At best, most scenarios merely reinforce and regard what participants already basically knew.”

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