Methods of prospective

Scenaring Tools

Scenaring Tools was developed in 2015 by François Bourse and Michel Godet by drawing on Zwicky's morphological analysis. Scenaring Tools combine prospective basics and scenario building through morphological analysis. It is actually a service bundle including several modules of which two, "Prospective Radar" and "Morphol", are presented in the current version.

The first module, ¨Prospective Radar¨, enables users to create, share, start debate, as well as build on the dimensions and variables (factors, actors) of a futuring system. This is a mandatory step in setting future references and creating scenarios. Several types of representation are suggested, for example,  in a ‘Prospective System’ with visuals for the different interlinked levels (overall environment, ecosystem or related context, specific system or internal variables and the related dimensions ranked or in tree structure (levels, dimensions, variables, hypotheses).

For each variable, the retrospective elements, trends, uncertainties, breakdowns, hypotheses and key messages may be generated, discussed and then completed collaboratively online or uploaded for discussion after initial suggestions have been made.

In fact, for each variable, online participants may store files and information, and then share this material (limit 5 mega-octets per computer file) thus creating a fuller thematic file per variable. Also, the hypotheses enable users to capitalize substantially on the futures analyses and group analyses or bases which treat different, complementary systems, e.g., the prospective system ‘Food 2030’  could be aligned with the ‘Agriculture 2030’ system.

Key messages listed by variable can be considered in survey form like the Color Insight.

Given practitioners’ uses and needs, there is considerable potential for developing the ‘Prospective Radar’ module, as presented here in a test version. In fact, we invite all users to send us their suggestions, as we did in the development of the Color Insight program.

The second module, “Morphol” allows for the construction of futures scenarios using morphological analysis that interconnect in an intuitive and interactive way.  The levels, dimensions, variables and hypotheses [2] are presented in a 3-D parallelogram, or parallelepiped.  All the data is easily accessed.  “Morphol” enables users to construct scenarios in a user-friendly manner by selecting hypotheses first by dimension (hypotheses organized by group of variables attached to one dimension), and then online with a group of participants.  In an upcoming version, participants will also be able to visualize the scenarios retained using the ‘Prospective Radar’ (graphic displaying hypotheses by variables and dimensions).

[1] The issue of taking into account a time horizon for hypotheses has been raised repeatedly, opening new opportunities for the representation of phenomena and the construction of scenarios.
[2] As generated by the ‘Prospective Radar’ (initial module)


Access to the Cloud version of the Scenaring Tools software


Morphological Analysis

Morphological analysis, sounds like a fancy name for a very simple, yet often ill-known or forgotten method. However we keep it in mind, given how useful this method can be in firing the imagination, helping to identify new products or previously unknown procedures, and to sweep the field of possible scenarios. 

The inventor of morphological analysis, Fritz Zwicky, actually wanted his method to make invention routine, an everyday process.  Zwicky, who was the first to conceive of dwarf stars, refined morphological analysis in the mid-forties while working for the US Army.  Legend has it that using the method first led researchers to create the famous Polaris missile submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM).

We rediscovered Zwicky’s morphological analysis in 1988-9 during a futures exercise called “AIF 2010”, (AIF, an acronym for individual infantryman weapon), held by the French ministry of defense.  Although morphological analysis was considered invaluable during the technological forecasting exercises of the 1960s (see Jantsh’s famous work), it had been forgotten, probably out of fear of the combinatoric calculations.

Oddly enough, morphological analysis was used for a long time in technological forecasting but not much in economic or sectorial forecasting.  However, this method lends itself well to scenario building.  A general system may be broken down into demographic, economic, technical, social or organizational questions or variables. For each one of these variables or key questions, there is a number of possible hypotheses or answers for the future.

Since the early 1990s, morphological analysis has been used systematically in prospective, or strategic foresight studies.  Most of these studies have been published, notably in the journal Futuribles, in the collection Travaux & Recherches de Prospective (TRP) or the LIPSOR Working Paper Collection.

Until the end of the 1980s, morphological analysis as such was not used often by futurists. Scenario building was generally limited to a few combinations, which seemed the most probable, e.g., hypotheses on key variables in the analysis, perhaps four or at most five.

The issue of choosing dimensions and key variables and their order plus the relevant hypotheses is a determining one for the pertinence, coherence, plausibility and transparency of the scenarios. The dimensions may be identified using the results of structural analysis (MICMAC) to identify key variables and using analysis of the interplay of the actors (MACTOR).

In concrete terms, the use of this method raises several problems as to exhaustiveness as well as the limits and illusion of combinatorics.  Morphological analysis’ efficiency and ease of use should not lull us into forgetting how when sweeping the field of possible solutions, the present may give the illusion of exhaustiveness because of all the calculations. However, this imaginary field is not limited definitely but is actually evolving over time.  By omitting a single component or an essential configuration for the future, we risk neglecting one side of the field of possibles or possibilities.  Hence we caution users to add a hypothesis with a big question mark (?) that serves to remind all of us that there are many other possible hypotheses and thus tens, even hundreds, of scenarios left out in the building process. 

It is also useful to connect morpohological analysis and probabilistic analysis (SMIC PROB-EXPERT), which was developed by focusing on the most probable combinations of sets of hypotheses.


  • GODET M., Manuel de prospective stratégique, Dunod, Paris, 2001.
  • GODET M., Creating Futures: scenario-building as a strategic management tool, Economica-Brookings, Paris, 2001.
  • GODET M., CHAPUY P., COMYN G., "Scénarios globaux à l'horizon 2000", Travaux et Recherches de Prospective, n°1, juin 1995.
  • MARTINO J. P., Technological forecasting for decision making, McGraw Hill, 1993.
  • SAINT-PAUL R., TENIÈRE-BUCHOT P.F., Innovation et évaluation technologique, Entreprise moderne d'Édition, 1974.
  • ZWICKY F., Discovery, Invention, Research - Through the Morphological Approach, The Macmillian Company: Toronto, 1969.
  • ZWICKY F., WILSON A., New Methods of Thought and Procedure: Contributions to the Symposium on Methodologies, Springer: Berlin, 1967.

To know more about the method MORPHOL:

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