MePSS Webtool - Tool (Level 4)

Worksheet W19 - Scenario Building
Table of Contents
1. Objective
2. Putting into Practice
3. Implementation
4. Software, templates and other support
5. Call on Resources
6. Literature, examples and background information

Objective Table of Contents

The Scenario Building tool aims at exploring in a systematic way potential/promising reconfiguration of the current system of products and services. These reconfigurations are described as alternative scenarios.

Through a semi-structured creative approach, this tool allows to generate ideas of tentative solutions and organise and present them in a systematic way. Scenarios describe the results of the potential implementation of these solutions.

Putting into Practice Table of Contents

2.1 When and why should this tool be used?

This tool should be used during the Exploring Opportunities phase, during a design workshop. It is useful to support design activities within complex situations with a large quantity of variables and a high number of actors involved. It is used at the beginning of the innovation process in order to start it in a coherent and organised way. Outside of a development of the project, it allows bringing convergence among the different actors involved and helps to build shared visions among them.

2.2 Who should use this tool?

A design expert or a facilitator should make use of this tool to stimulate the brainstorming of new PSS ideas.

Implementation Table of Contents

3.1 How should this tool be used?

1 – Introduction to the 2 steps

The scenario building consists of an iterative dialogue between two reciprocal processes:

§ An inductive bottom-up process starting from the creative generation of promising tentative ideas to suggest new scenarios of reconfiguration of the current system of products and services;

§ A deductive top-down approach starting from a systematic exploration of promising reconfigurations of the current system of products and services describing alternative scenarios and suggesting new tentative solutions.

Both processes make use of a polarity-based approach. A polarity shows a possible variation of one dimension of the PSS in two opposite directions: i.e. the relationship between the user and the product may be individual or collective, enabling or relieving…pointing each time an alternative situation more or less relevant to the objectives of the project.

Figure 1: Polarities are represented by a line with arrows at both ends between and a pair of opposite concepts figuring the potential variation considered in the current system of products and services.

The following description will present both inductive and deductive processes as two coherent and consecutive sequences of activities for the sake of a didactic explanation. In practice, the two processes are mostly conducted in parallel as an iterative dialog converging progressively towards a limited set of promising scenarios and a related number of consistent tentative solutions.

2 – Preparation phase

Before starting the construction of the Design Orienting Scenarios, a preparation phase is necessary in order to gather information on the actors in presence; their motivations, the contexts in which they evolve, the strength and weakness of the current situation, etc. A series of concise formats are presented in order to sum up input information coming from the “Strategic Analysis” phase and share it easily within the participants to the scenario building activity.

3 - Inductive process:

There are 3 steps in the inductive process:

§ Creative Sessions;

§ Clustering and organisation;

§ Description of characteristics.

Step 1: Creative Sessions

Creative sessions start from the collective review of all project-input material to generate spontaneous tentative solutions. The creative session may be conducted through classical brainstorming sessions in sub-groups. In order to facilitate exchanges and communication between participants, tentative solutions are presented on a standard format (Figure 2) based on a simple drawing showing a specific feature or characteristic of the idea and a short slogan explaining it.

Figure 2: tentative solutions emerging form a brainstorming session.

Step 2: Clustering and organisation

Clustering and organisation of the generated tentative solutions show promising directions of variation within the current system of product and services. These variations are represented by polarities. A mapping (Figure 3) with the generated solution is made crossing the two most characteristic polarities.

Figure 3: polarities emerging from the clustering of the promising solutions.

Step 3: Description of characteristics

The characteristics of the four generated areas are described. They constitute the core visions of alternative scenarios (Figure 4). It is to be noted that most of the time one of the four areas describes the current system of products and services, and the three other are alternative scenarios.

Figure 4: polarities diagram presenting the core vision of four promising scenarios.

4 - Deductive process

The deductive process is made of 3 steps:

§ List of possible polarisations;

§ Combination of two polarisations;

§ Creative sessions.

Step 1: List of possible polarisations

Starting from a collective review of all project input materials, consistent polarities showing possible changes in the current system of product and services may be listed for their pertinence to the objectives of the project (Figure 5).

Figure 5: list of possible polarisation within the current product service system.

Step 2: Combination of two polarisations

The combination of the two most pertinent polarisations defines new promising areas orienting solution generation (Figure 6).

Figure 6: combination of two promising polarities toward the project objectives

Step 3: Creative sessions

A creative brainstorming within each of the four areas generates new tentative solutions (Figure 7).

Figure 7: tentative solutions emerging from the four areas described by the polarity diagram.

5 - Description of the Design Orienting Scenarios

Repeated iterations of both inductive and deductive processes according to time and availability of the actors involved allows to re-organise the outputs and map them against the dimensions identified (Figure 8).

The output is based on:

§ A set of promising scenarios agreed upon by the involved actors (where a “set of scenario” means a diagram made of the combination of 2 polarities describing 4 contrasted scenarios);

§ A description of each 4 scenario visions (where a “scenario vision” describes how the system of current PSS may evolve);

§ A cluster of related tentative solution ideas (where a “cluster of related tentative ideas” is a selection of ideas that is emblematic of the scenario vision and thus may represent it).

Figure 8: the two figures show a “polarity diagram” with respectively a set of scenario concepts and related cluster of characteristic product-service system ideas.

3.2 Result

One (or more) sets of promising scenarios, their descriptions and related clusters of tentative ideas such as the ones listed in Figure 8.

3.3 Input needed/ data required/ data acquisition process

  • Information on the actors in presence; their motivations, the contexts in which they evolve, coming from the “Strategic Analysis” phase;
  • If the tool was used, the results from the SWOT analysis of the current situation

Software, templates and other support Table of Contents

4.1 Software

This tool does not require any software.

4.2 Templates and other support

No specific template other than the above described diagrams are required.

Call on Resources Table of Contents

5.1 Personnel and time needed

This tool requires preparation time (roughly 2 to 3 hours), time for the brainstorming session (4 hours) as well as for “homework” to sum up the results of the workshop (3 hours).

Literature, examples and background information Table of Contents

6.1 Methodological References

Excerpt from “Final version of the design PSS methodology and toolkit for industry”, by François Jegou, Elena Pacenti, Daniela Sangorgi, Ursula Tischner and Carlo Vezzoli.

Manzini, E. and Jégou F., “The construction of Design-Orienting Scenarios", Final Report, SusHouse Project, Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management, The Netherlands, Delft University of Technology, 2000.