The question of whether scenario generating makes a differnce is a good one and one that we've been trying to examine following our recent work with CONSENSUS: Consumpion, Environment and Sustainability in Ireland. Our scenarios were co-created (by a combination of the research team, stakeholders from public, private and civil society as well as citizen-consumer groups) and transition framework documents were created to set out short-, medium- and long-term actions in policy, research and development and social norms (all available at www.consensus.ie) for the household consumption practices of home heating, personal washing and eating. These documents have been widely circulated to key actors and organisations since their finalisation.
Evaluations of the process to date indicate that the process of scenario generating was a positive experience for those who participated. The process brought together people from sectors that were not normally engaged in constructive dialogue. The future-orientation permitted the suspension of entrenched vested intersts and positions, at least for the workshop. Participants also reported various levels of personal learning (See Davies et al., (2012) Spaces for sustainability learning? Future visioning as a geographical process for transforming production and consumption practices. Area 44(1):54-60). It is too soon to evaluate whether this personal learning will become embedded in organisations or whether the networking capability of scenario generating will lead to enduring relationships and shifts in policy and household consumption practices. That said, the project has been positively received by policy makers (and advisors) and follow-on activities which move from vision to action are being planned.
The work of Jaco Quist and others in The Netherlands provides a more mature analysis of the impact of such scenario development in J.Quist et al., The impact and spin-off of participatory backcasting: from vision to niche, Technology Forecasting and Social Change (2011)