Debate is a dispute resolution technique which breaks down the elements of a disagreement indicating the dependencies between supporting points and the larger points they support or attack.

Structured debate is similar to a courtroom where the proponents make their case in front of a jury of peers.

Uses of the method

  • Resolve differences of opinion on future policy, long-term decisions
  • Improve participants perspectives and collaboration
  • Develop innovative solutions


  •  Determine best route forward through structured collaboration and agreement


  • Heavy time and resource commitment
  • High 'Emotional intelligence' required

Steps to complete

  • Proponent makes best case
  • Opponent makes best case
  • Proponent and opponent share best cases
  • Proponents and opponents rebut each others cases
  • Proponents and opponents reply to the rebuttal altering their analysis as appropriate
  • Each side alters its best case as appropriate and presents to the jury
  • The jury seeks and notes any clarifications
  • The jury debates the cases and makes a decision on the side of the team refuting the best arguments of the opposing team
  • Capture your most exciting idea and biggest fear
  • Determine the fixed elements (almost certain hard trends) that will inform your strategic response: slow-changing phenomena e.g. demographic shifts, constrained situations e.g. resource limits, in the pipeline e.g. aging of baby boomers, inevitable collisions e.g. climate change arguments.
  • Capture critical variables i.e. uncertainties, soft trends and potential surprises. Both these and the fixeded elements will be key to creating scenarios and examining potential future paradigm shifts.
  • Capture unique insight into new ways of seeing that can be utilized by the organization.
  • State alternative hypotheses drawn with different assumptions and judgments.
  • Finish by noting the jury's conclusions
  • What conclusions can we draw from the exercise(s)?
    • How might the future be different?
    • How does A affect B?
    • What is likely to remain the same or change significantly?
    • What are the likely outcomes?
    • What and who will likely shape our future?
    • Where could we be most affected by change?
    • What might we do about it?
    • What don't we know that we need to know?
    • What should we do now, today?
    • Why do we care?
    • When should we aim to meet on this?

Next steps could include a further round of iteration, a recommendation on how to get the answers to loose ends in the arguments or use of other methods such as 'Brainstorm' to create more vantage points on the issue.

This method and your response can be shared with other members or kept private using the 'Privacy' field and through the 'Tag', 'Report' and 'Forum' functionalities. Use 'Tag' and/or 'Report' to aggregate your analyzes, or add a 'Forum' to ask others where they agree/disagree and encourage them to make their own analysis from their unique vantage point.

Click the 'Invite tab to send invitations to other members or non-members (colleagues, external experts etc.) to ask for their input. You can whether or not you want anonymous responses.  These can be viewed and exported within the Responses tab.

Further reference

Contact us

Even with all the advice and tools we have provided here starting a foresight project from scratch can be a daunting prospect to a beginner. Let us know if you need help with this method or want a group facilitation exercise or full project or program carrying out by us. We promise to leave behind more internal knowledgeable people who can expand your initiative for better organizational performance.

Contact us today for a free discussion on your needs.

Are there other enhancements or new methods you would like to see here? Let us know and we will do our best to respond with a solution quickly.

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