Alternative Futures Analysis

Set of techniques used to explore different future states developed by varying a set of key trends, drivers, and/or conditions.

Sample Usage: Strategic analysts used alternative futures analysis to investigate the effectiveness of a proposed policy in different possible futures. Extended Definition: includes forecasts, scenario analysis, and visioning.


  1. This type of analysis can be used to test assumptions about future conditions, as well as identify ―weak signals‖ of trends that could be significant in the future and ―wildcard events‖ that – while unlikely – would have high impact should they occur.
  2. Alternative futures analysis can also test the robustness of alternative strategies, policies, or capabilities by evaluating the effectiveness of each, and evaluating trade-offs or complementarities among them, in a variety of potential future states ranging from the highly challenging to the visionary.
  3. Similar methods can be used to develop a statement of vision to motivate an organization to create the future it prefers in light of changes taking place in the environment.

Source: DHS Risk Lexicon, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2010 Edition. September 2010 Regulatory Guidance

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