Exploratory Scenario Planning


Exploratory Scenario Planning is a means of planning for the future given that the future is uncertain.  One reason Exploratory Scenario Planning is useful is that it considers the disruptors that cause uncertainty.  Changes in technology, values of residents, and growth of the global economy create a range of potential possibilities to plan for.  Each is unpredictable over a long period of time, yet long-range planning must consider how these trends may unfold and how they may affect communities and transportation needs. This approach allows planners to focus on the risks and opportunities in a range of scenarios and concentrate on the best options for preparing for the future.

Exploratory Scenario Planning: A New Approach to Transportation Planning

For long-range transportation planning, it is common to plan with a goal in mind: for instance, how should a community grow and how should it prioritize transportation investments to achieve that growth?  Exploratory Scenario Planning focuses on the fact that there is a range of possibilities for how a community may change in the future, how these changes may impact the transportation system, and a variety of factors that contribute to that change. Exploratory Scenario planning asks, What could happen?  From this vantage point, planners can introduce changing conditions, technology advancements, investment strategies, and a host of other forces to explore future conditions and the risks and opportunities they may bring.

Normally, planners may be seeking the single future scenario represented by the bullseye and adjust their methods to meet that result.  Exploratory Scenario Planning acknowledges that any of the scenarios in the dartboard area are possible based on a number of factors and forces.