Planning frameworks

Step 1: Use the framework in Figure 1 (below) to structure a discussion of the responses made to events described in the storylines generated in a ParEvo exercise. Participants, and others, can be asked “to what extent did each of these kinds of responses take place and how adequate were they?”, for each of the four types of events..

Step 2: Participants can then be asked to look into the future, and think about what kinds of useful steps could be taken that fall into each of the four categories (informed by the Step 1 analysis of the events in the storylines). This could include consideration of what previous responses could be replicated, improved on, as well as completely new responses.

Step 3: Take a wider perspective

In Figure 2 below, the grey circle contains other events outside the matrix which can be imagined, but where we cannot make any reasonable estimate of their likelihood. Some ParEvo stories can fall into this category, when we find participants given polar opposite judgements about their likelihood.

Beyond the grey circle, in the white space, is the realm of unknown events, where even the nature of possible events is unknown let alone their likelihoods. In this circle people/organisations may want to hold some resources in reserve, creating what has been called “organisational slack”. 

Figure 2: A coarse nested typology of possible future events and associated types of responses

There is also another circle in Figure 2, shown in dark green. This partially covers the possible events in the matrix as well as some beyond. These are events that might be managed (in advance or after the fact) by what could be called “robust responses” which might work across a wide range of circumstances but without necessarily being the optimal response to any of them. For example, the development of international governance mechanisms and standards. These are in contrast to the more customised responses described within the matrix that differ for each cell.

Step 4: Identify possible responses that would fit each of the above three additional categories of events:

  • Robust responses which might work across a range of events with relatively known probabilities
  • Activities which are more exploratory and risk taking, but which may turn out to be useful in respect to events which can be conceived but whose likelihood is unknown or seriously contended
  • Reservation of resources for not yet known responses to not yet known events

Extra dimensions


When you read one or more storylines you may notice that some actors of central concern have more versus less agency. That is the ability to influence events versus be influenced by events. On amore micro level it is also possible to assess this on a contribution by contribution level.

Is this a relevant dimension to consider when in a planning stage? How might the presence of agency affect the range and type of responses that could be made?

  • Where lacking would it encourage attention to the constraints on agency and how they might be addressed.
  • Where present might it encourage attention to the opportunities available and how they might be exploited


Equity can be seen as a dimension of desirability, which a storyline or contribution might describe as increasing or decreasing


Sustainability can be seen as an independent dimension , independent of the desirability and likelihood dimensions. It could be seen as a form or resilience or inertia, depending on when the events are seen as desirable or undesirable.