Publications

We’ve had a lot to say over the years about the future. Here is a continuously growing and evolving archive of many of our commentaries, analyses, and discussions of best practices for staying ahead of change and disruption.

The Future of Media & Marketing

Gerard Smith

As media and marketing have evolved together, the future of one has to be considered alongside the other. 

View Article »

Decision making under extreme uncertainty: Blending quantitative modeling and scenario planning

Peter J. Kennedy and Robert J. Avila

Scenario planning and quantitative modeling can often be clashing analytical tools. But two FSG consultants innovatively combined them for the benefit of a car company in South America. Along the way, they learned some important lessons.

View Article »

Strategic Intent in the Coast Guard

The Coast Guard publication, Creating and Sustaining Strategic Intent in the US Coast Guard, is the culmination of a multi-year collaboration with FSG. You can download the 2013 edition here

Presidential Election Scenarios

Patrick Marren

So many of life's most crucial decisions have to be made by non-experts about things they cannot possibly understand to any degree of completeness.

View Article »

The Devil’s Dictionary of Business Strategy

Patrick Marren

View Article »

The Devil’s Dictionary of Business Strategy, Vol. II

Patrick Marren

View Article »

Once You Can Fake Sincerity…

Patrick Marren

The advertising-media symbiosis by which advertising firms have for a century or more placed ads in newspapers, on television, and on the radio seems to be breaking down. 

View Article »

A New Era?

Patrick Marren

I do not know quite what to call this new era.  But one possible distinguishing feature of it may be the new prominence of the political over and above the purely economic.  

View Article »

Two Shoes That Might Not Drop

One of my favorite (and overused, by me) quotes is from John Pentland Mahaffy, a nineteenth century Anglo-Irish polymath: “In Ireland the inevitable never happens and the unexpected constantly occurs.”

View Article »

Obsolete Habiliments

Patrick Marren

Quick quiz.  See if you can identify the two people talking about each other in the following two sentences: "Morally and philosophically, I find myself in agreement with virtually the whole of it; and not only in agreement but deeply moved agreement.” "[He was] the one really great man I ever knew, and for whom I had unbounded admiration." 

View Article »

Because It's There

Patrick Marren

Wade Davis, an anthropologist, recently published Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest. It holds lessons not only for mountaineers and other adventure travelers, but also for other realms of human endeavor, business and strategy in particular.  

View Article »

Enterprise Risk Management: Effective ERM Practices

Peter Kennedy

The Enterprise Risk Management discipline is still new, and few companies have done it all and done it right.

View Article »

Brand Spanking

Patrick Marren

Patrick Marren discusses systems of categorization – what do you do when something doesn't quite fit?

View Article »

Overcoming Opportunity Blindness and Path Dependence: How to Think Your Way to Multiple Futures

Kevin McDermott and Peter Kennedy

Collective Intelligence’s Kevin McDermott and FSG principal Peter Kennedy make the case for adopting scenario analysis as a tool for fostering innovative thinking. In the May 2011 issue of InnovationManagement they point to “strategic confidence” as a critical success factor in a world of disruptive and unpredictable change. 

View Article »

Grading Myself

Patrick Marren

A demonstration of the perils of prediction in a unique way.

View Article »

Profitably Shared Delusions

Patrick Marren

A review of the importance of mass shared beliefs in shaping economies, markets, nations, and business strategies.

View Article »

Lords of Huh?

Patrick Marren

Review of Walter Kiechel III’s The Lords of Strategy: The Secret Intellectual History of the Corporate World (Harvard Business Press).

View Article »

Nailing Strategic Jello to the Wall

Patrick Marren

This article examines first principles of “business strategy” in a way that most of us are unconscious of normally.

View Article »

Business Strategiastes

Patrick Marren

To every thing there is a season, and to this season Patrick Marren has written this thing.  

View Article »

Prediction Kills

Patrick Marren

“Hitting the bullseye” with a seemingly prescient prediction is kind of neat, we would all agree.  But when the stakes are high, depending upon hitting the bullseye can be fatal. 

View Article »

Jeeves and the Dow Jones

Patrick Marren

With apologies to P.G. Wodehouse, it is time to re-examine a topic I first took up several years ago: which way will the stock market go next? 

View Article »

Iceberg Ahead

Patrick Marren

“Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future.” Variously attributed to Niels Bohr, Mark Twain, Robert Storm Peterson, Yogi Berra, Casey Stengel, Samuel Goldwyn, and others, this quote holds more truth now than ever. 

View Article »

Strategic Improvisation

Patrick Marren

Next time you are sitting in a corporate strategy meeting, try to imagine the people in charge on stage, thrown into improvisation – how well would they do?   How well would you do? 

View Article »

The Great Game of Gotcha

Patrick Marren

Why experts are still forced to give pinpoint forecasts of the future, even though everyone involved should know that such point forecasts are dangerous nonsense. 

View Article »

Questions, Questions

Patrick Marren

The question “Are we in a recession?” is unanswerable until far too late – and almost always of no real use in decisionmaking in the real world.

View Article »

Living in the Present

Patrick Marren

An article “from the future” illustrating the trend away from serious strategy and planning in American companies. 

View Article »

Destructive Creation

Patrick Marren

The integrity and identity of any business is to some degree dependent on the external pressures exerted upon it by the competitive environment. Strategic success in eliminating that pressure may ironically be the greatest threat to continued success.

View Article »

Invasion of the Kravarites

Patrick Marren

Many are the businesses have been trapped by systems of jargon into thinking that summer is going to go on forever.

View Article »

High-functioning Business Strategy

Patrick Marren

A rigorous step-by-step “left-brain” process is the best way to harness the talents of intensely competent “left-brain,” “autistic” managers to imagine entirely novel situations, challenges, opportunities – and strategies. 

View Article »

We've Got to Stop Meeting Like This

Patrick Marren

Many executives will use the same group of people to tackle all types of problems. But different problems will require different-sized groups, with different types of people. 

View Article »

Losing the Bubble

Patrick Marren

The strategy process can often produce results that are the opposite of what the organization either expects or needs.

View Article »

Shininess vs Usefulness

Patrick Marren

Tradeoffs are the most inescapable aspect of business strategy, if not life itself; they are also perhaps the most resolutely ignored. Scratch a strategic disaster, and usually you will come across a juicy unrecognized tradeoff.

View Article »

Fish or Starve

Patrick Marren

Review of Jared Diamond's book, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Succeed or Fail, which has some interesting parallels to the world of business strategy.

View Article »

Stick This in Your Stovepipe

Patrick Marren

When a business organization is in a state of imminent collapse, its vertical structures – its “stovepipes” – often remain in place, long after their usefulness has dissipated. 

View Article »

The Little Prince Approach to the Future

Patrick Marren

Conventional wisdom is often right, of course. But it is also often wrong. Unless planners bring their implicit assumptions to the surface and test them, their plans will be obsolete very quickly. 

View Article »

Far from the Blinking Crowd

Patrick Marren

Review of several recent books relevant to strategy issues, including Blink by Malcolm Gladwell and The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki.

View Article »

Parables of Consulting

Patrick Marren

Purely humorous tales of Satan, the First Consultant. 

View Article »

Either/Or

Patrick Marren

One of the most intractable problems in business strategy is the fact that here are two basic types of people: left-brain people who are logical, mathematical, and precise, and right-brain people who are creative, expressive, and generalist. 

View Article »

The Forgivable Sin

Patrick Marren

Patrick Marren discusses a form of systemic strategic blindness that cannot be explained away with a hopeful hypothesis –“the Cassandra Paradox.” 

View Article »

The Migrating Locus of Strategy

Patrick Marren

Are companies obeying some higher law that pushes them toward lemming-like self destruction for the greater good of the economy? 

View Article »

A Few Heads-Ups

Patrick Marren

Predicting exactly what WILL happen may be impossible. But anticipating a wide range of plausible eventualities, some of which will come to pass, is quite possible. 

View Article »

Who Is the Client?

Patrick Marren

Should planners maximize the prospects of the current organization and its management, or plan for long-term organizational success? 

View Article »

Strategic Planning After 9/11: Planning for Disruptive Events

Peter Kennedy, Charles Perrottet and Charles Thomas

The authors discuss the use of scenario planning in light of disruptive events.

View Article »

Futurists’ Fallacies: Common Errors in Long-Range Planning

Patrick Marren

Why do respected planners so often fail to predict seismic events? A better way to plan: scenario planning.

View Article »

Where Did All the Knowledge Go?

Patrick Marren

A discussion of the rise and [relative] fall of the knowledge management movement in business.

View Article »

Historical Context

Patrick Marren

Patrick Marren speculates about the US economy and whether it will recover, following the uncertainty due to terrorism in the West, occurring after the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks of 11 September.

View Article »

The Elephant Walk

Patrick Marren

Patrick Marren analyzes Louis Gerstner’s account of his revival of IBM in the mid-1990s, as well as what the phrase “business strategy” actually does and does not mean.

View Article »

Business in the Age of Terrorism

Patrick Marren

Patrick Marren discusses how September 11 changed the way strategic planners must look at their companies' futures.

View Article »

Other Publications

Proteus: Insights from 2020, by Charles Thomas, with M. Loescher and C. Schroeder (Copernicus Institute, 2000).

“Why Peter Drucker Is Wrong About the Future,” by Patrick Marren. Handbook of Business Strategy, 1998.

More »