Scenarios of future trends are widely used by government and international agencies to inform decision-making. While story line scenarios may be useful for business or government thinking, they are not effective at informing engineering research, innovation and design, and add very little to the understanding of sustainability. This paper presents a strategic analysis approach to complex systems, which relies on identification of risks to important activities and wellbeing. This method mimics the actual processes of anthropogenic continuity, where people explore, experiment, learn from success and mistakes, and adapt and evolve. The method is applied to the case study of transportation fuel supply in New Zealand. Directions for immediate strategic engineering research and innovation are clear outcomes of the analysis.