Prospective. A Brief Methodological Guide
This concise text explains the basic concepts and principal steps of the systematic approach to what is called "la démarche prospective", or simply "la prospective in France". The utility and limitations of the method as an aide to decision-making are also addressed.
The author divides his considerations on the nature of the future into three parts. (1) The domain of freedom : the future is open to several possibilities. (2) The domain of capacity and will : to show the difference and the complementarity between anticipation (exploring the field of the possible) and strategy (the project). He distinguishes "la démarche prospective" from straightforward forecasting by underscoring its essential character - a dynamic analysis of systems which integrates discontinuities and ruptures.
He describes finally the four steps that he judges to be essential in a prospective study :
1) definition of the subject and temporal horizon of the study,
2) systemic analysis and decomposition of the system into key variables,
3) the elaboration of a set of contrasting hypotheses on the future evolution of each variable,
4) exploration of possible combinations among the hypotheses developed for key variables and the elaboration of contrasting scenarios which show the process and final images.