Wind Tunneling

Wind-tunneling is a facilitative method used during a strategic foresight exercise that helps a group to test how future changes might affect the ability to deliver a particular project or set of strategic objectives.

Wind-tunneling helps to identify critical planning points where strategy needs to be flexible and adaptable and what policies may need to be strengthened.  As such, it provides a process for testing different policy options in diverse possible futures.

When to use it?
Generate / Adapt: Wind-tunneling is likely most effective when a policy or strategy has been developed but before implementation.

How to do it?

  1. Develop scenarios or leverage existing ones;

  2. Clarify the outcome or policy option to be tested—participants must clearly understand the desired outcome of the project, policy or strategic option to be tested and ideally the strategy for delivering it.

  3. Examine how the external conditions in each scenario affect delivery of the desired outcome.  Split participants into breakout groups so that one group examines only one scenario at a time.

  4. Identify the implications for strategy development:

      • Whether the desired outcome is still achievable and desirable;

      • Whether the desired outcome needs to be modified in any way;

      • How the desired outcome should be achieved in this scenario;

      • How the current strategy for delivery needs to be modified.

  5. Each group should repeat this process until they have had an opportunity to explore all scenarios.

  6. Harvest overall insights and outcomes from the discussion.

2-20 (with breakout groups no larger then 8)

1-2 hr

Pros and Cons

  • Provides a process for gathering detailed feedback on how a new or existing strategy/policy may be affected by different plausible future scenarios and how it may need to be modified to ensure effective delivery.


  • Process requires participants to have a good grasp of the policy/strategy that has been designed.  If this is not present the group may not be able to explore the various implications of each scenario in depth.

Provide the participants with an estimate of how long the card sort will take before beginning the session to help them better gauge the required time and effort.



Additional Resources

The Futures Toolkit: Tools for Strategic Futures for Policy-Makers and Analysts