Scenario Thinking: A Historical Evolution of Strategic Foresight

R. Bradley Mackay, Peter McKiernan

Research output: Book/ReportBook


This Element infuses established scenario planning routines with an exploration of cognitive reasoning, by contextualising scenario thinking within the wider human endeavour of grappling with future uncertainties. A study of ancient civilisations shows that scenario thinking is not new, but has evolved significantly since ancient times. By de-coupling scenario thinking from scenario planning, it is elevated as the essential ingredient in managerial foresight projects. The historical theme continues, focussing on the evolution of modern scenario planning, by way of the French and Anglo-American schools of thought, using the intuitive logics methodology. Archival research has discovered early contributions in the UK around the development and use of scenario thinking in public policy, which has been overlooked in many received histories. Finally, the usefulness of scenario thinking for strategic management is challenged and the argument that it is a heuristic device for overcoming cognitive biases and making better strategic decisions is refined.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages75
ISBN (Print)9781108469005
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018


  • scenario planning
  • cognitive reasoning
  • scenario thinking


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