Scenario Workshop and
European Awareness Scencario Workshop

The Scenario Workshop is a development of the "Future Workshop" and basically it follows the same three phases for criticism, vision, and fantasy. However, the Scenario Workshop is based on a presentation of possible future developments in the area. These so-called Scenarios have been formulated in advance. The criticism of the Scenarios by the participants together with their own experiences form the basis for visions and action plans.

In line with the future workshop, the aim of the scenario workshop is to create a basis for local action. In addition, the workshop is used to gather knowledge about barriers and participants’ experiences and visions of the topic as well as their attitudes towards the defined scenarios and the basis for these. Participants consist of 25-30 people with different roles in the local community, for example:

- politicians, government officials, civil servants
- technical experts
- investors, business people
- Citizens and local associations

In line with the future search conference the aim is to form a basis for local action, but the Scenario Workshop furthermore serves to gather knowledge about which visions the participants have on the given topic. And what are their attitudes to the presented Scenarios and their preconditions.

Workshops under the aegis of the Danish Board of Technology are usually part of a larger project. Here the participants' visions and attitudes towards new technology constitute a bank of ideas and a basis for the further discussion and assessment among experts and politicians. Furthermore visions and attitudes are communicated to a broader circle of citizens, so they can carry on the debate among those who are likewise affected by the development.

The topic of the Workshop should not be too narrow. It should deal with assessment and choices between different types of technology. It is furthermore important that it lies within the participants' sphere of action, i.e. that there is an opportunity for influence and that all decisions have not already been taken. It must be a topic which is relevant to society and where there is consensus that local action is a necessity. The exchange of professional insight and users' experience must generate new knowledge.
The Scenario Workshop is a particular type of meeting, which follows a certain set of rules. During the Workshop there will be time for brainstorming, discussion, presentation, and time for voting. The work shifts between plenary and group session. The format and ground rules of the Scenario Workshop are there to ensure that everyone gets their say, that all ideas can be tabled for discussion, and that the work is aimed at an action plan. The Workshop typically lasts two days, and goes through three phases:

Critical analysis phase
The task of the critical analysis phase is to criticise the scenarios – to provide both positive and negative criticism based on the views, knowledge and experiences of the participants. The scenarios represent different possible scenarios of the future. They are not predictions and the task does not involve choosing a preferred scenario or assessing which is the most probable. The scenarios are there to inspire criticism which can lead to new visions and action proposals.

Visionary phase
Using the knowledge gained from the critical analysis phase, the visionary phase focuses on developing personal visions for future development. Particpants are allowed to select which elements and parts of the scenarios they want to include in their own future vision and combine these with other elements. The work takes place in theme groups so people can focus on their theme and formulate a number of visions.

Implementation phase
When transforming visions into reality, a number of barriers become apparent which are important to identify. These barriers may be economic, cultural, social, organisational, political or technical. The theme groups’ suggestions for implementing their visions are discussed in plenum in an effort to clarify and prioritise the implementation phase. Following this, action proposals are prepared for the final action plan. The final action plan describes the prioritised suggestions and focuses on those who are charged with their implementation.

The scenario workshop can be held as a stand-alone event, but the Danish Board of Technology recommends conducting several scenario workshops in the same project process. This can either take the form of independent workshops about the same topic but featuring different scenarios. or can also take the form of several workshops in which the scenarios are gradually developed based on the work of the participants and where the same participants take part in several workshops. See also

The Danish Board of Technology has for its own purposes used the method in a larger theme on Ecologically Sustainable City and Habitation Types, and in the project Library of the Future, where the aim was to develop visions and proposals on the use of information technology in the public library. The Scenario Workshop method have since 1993 been "exported" to a range of projects under the EU Commission, the Value/Innovation Program, DGXIII. The aim has been to create a connection between research and development activity and the needs of society. The Danish Board of Technology has been part of these projects. There has been a significant development and publication of material, Scenario Workshops have been conducted in many countries and a comprehensive network has been developed.

Examples of the method within the framework of the Danish Board of Technology
New Climate - New Life? (2004)
Education of the Future (2001)
The Library of the Future (1994)
City Ecology (1993)

      • A poster on information about Scenario Workshops can be downloaded here


The European Awareness Scenario Workshop

The European Awareness Scenario Workshop (EASW) Initiative was launched by the European Commission DG XIII D in 1994 as a pilot action to explore new possible actions and social experiments for the promotion of a social environment favoring innovation in Europe. The initiative focused on two particular fields of action which, in the opinion of experts, should benefit the most from the introduction of the European dimension:

  • Assessing the transferability of best practices between different cultural and political contexts, including identification of conditions for success.
  • Identification and further development of instruments and tools to support the know-how transfer processes.

At the website documents such as an organization manual, overhead presentation slides, self training manuals and other files can be downloaded. These documents are tools to help users understand the European Awareness Scenario Workshops.

You can read about adaptations of the EASW and national modifications of the basic Scenario Workshop tool at You may also read Richard Sclove’s Essay “Democratic Politics of Technology: The Missing Half”.

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