Strategic Foresight and Scenario Planning


This course aims to provide students with a solid background in Scenario Planning and Strategic Foresight, which is particularly relevant in the context of accelerating change, turbulence, uncertainty, and unpredictability that characterizes current times.
The course complements its key theoretical and methodological contents with a full hands-on simulation of a Foresight / Scenario building process based in real challenges presented to the students by an invited organization.
The focus of the course will be on developing skills in three critical activities (and their tools) for the world of today:
•    Scanning the organizational environment by exploring different types of approaches and
•    Simulation of possible futures through the development and exploration of strategic scenarios;
•    Strategic agility and resilience through the explicit articulation of Foresight and Scenarios with Strategic Management concepts and tools.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

António Alvarenga


Weekly - Available soon

Total - Available soon

Teaching language



Available soon


•    Amer, M., Daim, T.U., Jetter, A. (2013) A review of scenario planning. Futures, 46, 4623-4640.
•    Goodwin, P., Wright, G. (2014) Decision Analysis for Management Judgment (“Chapter 16 Scenario planning: an alternative way of dealing with uncertainty”). 5th Edition, Wiley.
•    Hines, A., Bishop, P. (2015). Thinking about the Future. 2nd Edition, Hinesight Edition.
•    Van der Heijden, K. (2005) Scenarios - the Art of Strategic Conversation. 2nd Edition. John Wiley and Sons, London.

Teaching method

•    Primary learning method: learning-by-doing (practice by doing) / active learning
•    Other learning methods: learning-by-examples (demonstration) and learning-by-teaching [teach other(s)]

Expository/lecturing and inquiry-based methods will also be used. Hands-on Methodology: this is a participatory and interactive course where, through a full simulation of a Foresight/Scenario Building process, the students address a real challenge presented by an invited organization and experiment the identification of drivers of change and uncertainties, build Scenarios and identify their strategic implications.

Evaluation method

•    50% - Group assignment (group assignment grades will be awarded on an individual basis based on each student’s contribution measured through overall group performance and a peer assessment process). The final presentation of the group assignment will take place on the 15th October 2019. Deadline for the upload of the report and the presentation in the Moodle platform: 2h30 p.m., 14th October 2019.
•    50% - Final individual exam (21st October 2019).

Subject matter

1.    Foresight, Horizon Scanning and Scenarios: origins, principles and key concepts
•    The concept of Foresight. Forecasting versus Foresight. Uncertainty management and organizational learning: the role of Foresight and Scenarios in Strategy
•    Strategic Foresight: principles, objectives and a first look at the different schools of thought and practice
•    Hands-on simulation part 1: launching the case; defining the focal issue and the time horizon

2.    Horizon scanning, trends, megatrends, uncertainties, wild cards, and weak signals
•    Creating a shared language for scanning with key concepts and examples
•    Hands-on simulation part 2: key concepts in action – looking for drivers of change

3.    Developing Scenarios. Scenarios as the main Foresight tool
•    Scenarios: concept, process, and methodological characteristics
•    The Intuitive Logics School of Scenario Building (“the Shell School”)
•    Hands-on simulation part 3: a crucial stage of the process ? choosing key uncertainties
•    An overview of other Scenario Planning schools (Michael Porter’s Industry Scenarios; The Probabilistic Modified Trends School; La Prospective - the French Foresight School - and Morphological Analysis)
•    Hands-on simulation part 4: building scenario structures

4.    From scenarios to organizational outputs. From anticipation to strategy
•    Implications and options. Exploring Scenarios using different Strategy tools
•     Hands?on simulation part 5: from anticipation to action

5.    Designing and leading Foresight and Scenario Planning processes
•     Hands?on simulation part 6: final presentations
•    Scenarios, Foresight and Horizon Scanning: a complementary methodological toolbox
•    Insights from hands-on experience Wrap-up and Q&A


Programs where the course is taught: