Futures Playbook - Aurecon

Navigate Uncertainty. Anticipate. Act.

Uncertainty Impact Mapping

uncertainty-mappingUncertainty Impact Mapping helps you systematically categorise ideas, trends, and concepts relative to their uncertainty and impact on your organisation.

This play helps groups explore the range of uncertainties they face and how they might best respond.

By categorising and sorting the issues, trends and concepts being presented, enables groups to assess how uncertain each of these factors are, what impact it is likely to have and prioritise the different types of strategic responses.

Dynamics + Patterns

Why run this play?

This is a Dynamics + Patterns play that helps you understand and analyse how change might occur.

You can use this play to help you:

  • Make sense of the type of uncertainty that is being faced, its characteristics and potential impacts
  • Identify priorities and the different types of strategic responses

How do I run this play?

Play Overview

6–8 45–6 minutes Easy

As a group, select a topic or issue to be investigated. Have a brief discussion about the issue and clarify objectives of the workshop.

Using Post-It notes, individually brainstorm ideas, issues, and opportunities, and organise your ideas from most certain to occur to least certain.

Then, as a group, decide which ideas can be placed at the extremes of the Uncertainty axis on the Uncertainty Impact Mapping canvas. This becomes your boundary and sets the relative range of uncertainty for the rest of your ideas. If any ideas are similar, group them together.

Now that you have arranged your ideas on the canvas, you will need to:

  1. Assess impact
    With the understanding of the relative range of uncertainty of the issue, as a group discuss what impact each idea has on your organisation and identify which ideas can be placed at the extremes of the Impact axis. Similar to the previous step, this forms the range of impact for your ideas. Rearrange your Post-It notes relative to the established boundaries along each axis.
  2. Assess the patterns
    When assessing the patterns for this play and possible actions, it helps to break it into the following quadrants:

Low Impact | Less Certain

Assess the options as these opportunities are building blocks for the long term and will be profitable and useful even if they have a low impact.

High Impact | Less Certain

There are two possible strategic responses:

  1. Watch, monitor and wait until there is more clarity over time.
  2. Scan the environment, undertake small experiments to test and probe the situation.

Low Impact | More Certain

Watch, monitor and wait and see if anything changes.

High Impact | More Certain

These ideas are low risk and it is best to develop a strategic plan as a response to act on these opportunities.

Least certainDegree of uncertaintyMore certain
LowLevel of impactHigh

Finally, as a group, discuss and identify what patterns have emerged and how the ideas, concepts, issues, and opportunities are distributed across the canvas.


The Uncertainty Impact Mapping Canvas and Facilitation Guide by Aurecon is licensed under CC BY 4.0


Do your research!
You may have a group that comes from different backgrounds and might not be aware of the issue. Bring them up to speed by inviting speakers, create some pre-reading, ask participants to undertake some homework beforehand.

Prioritise and test assumptions
You can use this time to prioritise options, issues, or areas of focus, but you may need to do some research and test assumptions before deciding where to focus.

The Play: in action

The emergence of new technologies is providing organisations with the opportunity to streamline and automate current operating processes.

To help categorise the different technological trends relative to their impact, we used the Uncertainty Impact Mapping play with a mining company to prioritise research needs and identify areas of most uncertainty for specific technology solutions.

From this process, we helped the organisation identify areas where they had least visibility, but would benefit from further innovation and technology adoption over the next six years.

Ready to find your future?

While this page gives you everything you need to run the Play yourself, you might prefer to work with the people who know the frameworks and theories best. Aurecon can help guide you through your Futures Playbook experience and help you navigate your digital future.

Contact us for an initial conversation

Next steps?

You can use this Strategy Play to identify what actions you need to take now to achieve your vision of the future.

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