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FSG OUTLOOK

March 26, 2012

Welcome to Our New Blog

Patrick Marren
Partner

Hello, world.  Welcome to our new blog. In this space we intend to launch an ongoing, entertaining, frequently updated dialogue about the inherent uncertainty in human events, and what organizations can do about it.

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October 02, 2011

Worried? Good. But Your Worst Nightmare Will Probably Not Come to Pass.

FSG partner Patrick Marren chronicles a century of late-summer anxiety…and wonders what it all means for the pressing worries of 2011. 

August 1911: The specter of Anarchism grips America. Anarchist Ben Reitman, disciple of Emma Goldman, counsels a rally of New York laborers to commit murder if necessary to bring about change: “If the rich thought that you would destroy their property or injure them, they would pay attention to the unemployed…. Your hope, I tell you, lies in your ability to injure society.” (N.Y. Times, Aug. 31, 1911)

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April 01, 2011

Revolution in the Middle East and North Africa: Some Notional Scenarios to Ponder

Peter Kennedy
Partner

by Patrick Marren and Peter Kennedy

Prediction is Difficult, Especially About the Future — Attributed to many

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November 04, 2010

Recession, Recovery and Scenario Planning: Which Way Now?

by Patrick Marren and Peter Kennedy  

Alas, we are not manufactured, in our current edition of the human race, to understand abstract matters — we need context.

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June 18, 2010

U.S. Healthcare Scenario Planning: Imagining the Future Shape of Reform

by Peter Kennedy 

It already seems like ages ago that the healthcare reform legislation was the centerpiece of the nation’s political conversation. While the most vocal opponents of the Obama administration continue to call for a repeal of healthcare reform, most of the nation (based on the results of a May Wall Street Journal poll) favor giving the new law a chance to work. The Obama administration is hoping as much, with the oil spill crisis in the Gulf of Mexico alone absorbing an extraordinary amount of executive time and attention.

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January 25, 2010

McKinsey, Scenarios and Us

by Patrick Marren

The November 2009 issue of the McKinsey Quarterly includes an article by Charles Roxburgh entitled “The Use and Abuse of Scenarios.” It includes a number of good tips about scenario-based strategic planning, based on his experience in building scenarios over the past 25 years. It also highlights some important distinctions between his understanding of scenarios, and the way in which FSG has gone about creating and using them over the past few decades. And finally, it brings to the surface the urgent concerns of executives as they go about leading their organizations under uncertain conditions.

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August 12, 2009

Scenario Planning Bookshelf: Chasing Black Swan Tails

by Patrick Marren

Much has been made lately of “long tails” and “Black Swans.” The latter is a formulation of Nassim Nicholas Taleb, an options trader and academic whose book, The Black Swan, lays out what Black Swans are and why just about everyone but him in the financial world is a fool. 

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August 15, 2009

The Big Mistakes Obama Has Already Made

by Patrick Marren

As the economy fails to recover instantaneously, and foreign enemies bluster, President Obama is taking increasing heat from expert critics. It is clear that his administration has made many missteps already in its handling of the economy, foreign policy, and virtually every other area. Some of these mistakes will take years, if not decades, for the United States to recover from.

All that remains uncertain is exactly what those mistakes will turn out to have been.

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June 28, 2009

How Scenario Planning Improves Forecasting by Reversing Cause and Effect

by Patrick Marren

Forecasting is based on expert opinion. Expert opinion, in turn, is essentially a collection of “if-then” statements about how causality works in one’s sphere of expertise. These “if-then” statements, it should be noted, are all based upon observation of how things have worked in the past. Hence, forecasting is based on how things have seemed to work in the past.

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June 15, 2009

Crisis Scenario Planning in an Eventful Year

by Peter Kennedy

It’s early April – not even 100 days into the Obama administration – and already it’s been a turbulent year.

At this moment, a modest rally is buoying Wall Street and investor hopes that maybe – maybe – the worst may be over, as leaders of the G-20 nations meeting in London pledge hundreds of billions more dollars and coordinated action in the face of the greatest financial mess since the Great Depression.

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May 16, 2012

Types of Scenario Planning

by Charles Thomas

The term “scenario planning” encompasses a surprisingly diverse range of activities. While there are many potential schemes for categorizing these activities, the discussion below presents a fairly comprehensive view of them, and indicates – if imperfectly – the relationships among the various approaches.

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January 30, 2008

Begging Indulgences: Bleak News from the Economic Front

by Robert Avila

FSG welcomes Robert Avila as the contributing author of this month’s FSG Outlook. Robert, an economist and former colleague, is an iconoclastic thinker, with a keen eye and a sharp wit. Robert warns that a soft economic landing looks less and less likely this time around.

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November 01, 2006

Global Scenario Planning: On the Road in the Middle Kingdom

by Charles Perrottet

Recently, I traveled to China for two weeks. Unsurprisingly, this trip personalized my awareness of an immense and different country. But, perhaps because of the amount of time I have spent working with scenarios over the past 15-20 years, it offered much more. China is beautiful, fascinating, and varied. Its future is, however, significantly less predictable than that of any other major country in the world today.

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January 01, 2007

Meet the Metrics: The New Math of Measuring Effectiveness

by Patrick Marren

One of the more interesting things I have found in my life and business experience is that numerical measures, or “metrics,” as we consultants are forced by law to call them, start to lose their usefulness on the day they are dreamt up.

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April 11, 2007

Coase Encounters

Patrick Marren
Partner

This month we salute an article that is a lifetime old, and use it to see where things might go in the next lifetime.

Well, the article can’t be said to be a lifetime old, really, because although it has reached threescore and ten, the traditional biblical lifespan, its author, who was 26 at the time it was written, is still alive and kicking, the oldest Nobel laureate around.

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November 19, 2007

The Wisdom of Scenario Crowds

by Peter Kennedy

The strategic decisions that corporations have to make are of mind-numbing complexity. But we know that the more power you give to a single individual in the face of complexity and uncertainty, the more likely it is that bad decisions will be made.

  James Surowiecki, The Wisdom of Crowds            

 

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March 27, 2012

Welcome to Our New Website!

Patrick Marren
Partner

Hello, and welcome to our new website!! We aim to make this a place you will want to visit on a regular basis. We want to make it a can't-miss destination for people who need help making critical decisions under conditions of uncertainty, and who may be interested in using scenario planning techniques to do it.

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April 12, 2012

What We Are On About Here

Patrick Marren
Partner

Few people think more than two or three times a year. I've made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week. - George Bernard Shaw

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April 13, 2012

Seven Wrong Things People Think About the Future

Patrick Marren
Partner

All along the untrodden paths of the future I see the footprints of an unseen hand. - Sir Boyle Roche

We who inhabit the Land of Scenariotopia (as a former colleague termed our little realm) think that the best way to predict the future is not to. That is, you should abandon the search for certainty and explore multiple scenarios of what might be. Many people don't do this, however. We find that lots of them subscribe, usually semi-consciously, to some or all of the following fallacies:

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April 20, 2012

Scenario Planning at FSG

Patrick Marren
Partner

What exactly does the Futures Strategy Group do? We help excellent organizations make better decisions under conditions of uncertainty -- mainly through the use of scenarios.

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April 21, 2012

The Future Is Now: Reading VINs from Space

Patrick Marren
Partner

Possibly frightening scenario fodder culled from the papers over Saturday morning coffee...

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April 22, 2012

This Week's Scenario Blast from the Past: Nation-Building in '01

Patrick Marren
Partner

Despite our leeriness about extrapolation from the past, we do read a lot of history at FSG in order to write our scenarios. As Mark Twain wrote, "It is not worth while to try to keep history from repeating itself, for man's character will always make the preventing of the repetitions impossible." (Mark Twain in Eruption: Hitherto Unpublished Pages About Men and Events (1940, Bernard DeVoto, editor). 

 

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April 24, 2012

Creativity Diary, Monday, April 23

Patrick Marren
Partner

A little scenario about Jonah Lehrer's new book, Imagine: How Creativity Works

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April 25, 2012

Seams Like Old Times

Patrick Marren
Partner

"Silos" are an inevitable part of any organization; indeed, of any human activity. Even if you confine yourself to individual action, your own mind is thinking within certain categories, usually operating off a mental model that tells you what to expect - "If I do X, then Y will happen" - and what NOT to expect - Z or W or something completely different.

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May 04, 2012

Fault Lines: Two Years Later, Some Scenarios

Patrick Marren
Partner

Scenario fodder for the week: Raghuram Rajan's "Fault Lines: How Hidden Fractures Still Threaten the World Economy" won many awards as best business book of 2010. A couple of years on, it's worth examining Rajan's major theses to see how they have played out.

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May 07, 2012

Quick & Dirty Scenarios: Francois Hollande, Greece, and Us

Patrick Marren
Partner

Some quick and dirty scenarios about this past weekend's EuroChaos in France and Greece.

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May 11, 2012

Scenario Consultant Perspective: Friday's Naive Two-By-Two Matrix

Patrick Marren
Partner

Paul Krugman's column today induces us to create scenarios...it's what we do.

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May 25, 2012

Friday Scenario Warning: Check Your Ideology at the Door

Patrick Marren
Partner

In election season as in any other season, when making business decisions in conditions of uncertainty, ideologies can be deadly - and we all have them. Scenarios can help.

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June 01, 2012

U.S. Election Scenario Data Points: June 1, 2012

Patrick Marren
Partner

May job numbers come in weak for yet another month, after some hopeful signs in the first quarter. Some scenarios for the election campaign are coming into focus.

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June 08, 2012

Pray for Austerity to Work in 2013...

Patrick Marren
Partner

Another quick and filthy Friday Scenario Planning exercise.

Someone is holding a gun to your head and asking what the impact of the 2012 election will be on your organization.

Here's your answer: Austerity -- either moderate or less moderate. 

Damnable 2 x 2 consultant matrix for today: Obama vs. Romney on one axis; Keynes Is Right vs. The Austrians Are Right on the other.

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June 11, 2012

Why Scenario Planning Works

Patrick Marren
Partner

Say you have a strategic decision to make. And you have several experts giving you different expert opinions about how you should make that decision. And you are not an expert. What do you do?

This is hardly an academic question. In fact, it is a fairly good description of what top management has to do every day. Especially in this era of the Internet, experts can be found to disagree on everything from interest rates to global warming to whether it is raining outside. 

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June 18, 2012

Book Review: Six Myths that Hold Back America

Charles Perrottet
Partner

Frank Newman's book, Six Myths that Hold Back America, exposes what he says are six false beliefs that are widely held in the United States – even or especially among people who are in a position to make policy.

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June 20, 2012

We're Doomed! No, We're Saved! Euro Scenarios

Patrick Marren
Partner

Scenario consulting has rarely had a better promotional material than Europe has been pumping out the past year or so. Uncertainty abounds.

Sunday's election in Greece has once again caused the Very Serious People in Europe to breathe a sigh of relief. "New Democracy, the mainline conservative party that wants to stay in the euro, won the election and can form a government! We're saved!" 

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June 21, 2012

The Problem With Everything: Them

Patrick Marren
Partner

So far I have soft-peddled my actual politics on here. It's only seemed like the sensible thing to do on the website of a commercial enterprise to keep my political opinions to myself.

But there comes a time when you just have to say what you really believe.

There are two types of people in the world: the sensible ones who can see that we are headed down a very bad path, and the nutty ones who want to hit the accelerator until we fly right off a cliff.

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June 21, 2012

Frank Newman's Six Myths -#1: Asian nations are bankrolling the U.S.

Charles Perrottet
Partner

Today we examine the first “myth” from Frank Newman’s book Six Myths That Are Holding Back America – the idea that Asian nations are bankrolling the U.S.

 

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June 22, 2012

Frank Newman's Six Myths -#2: Treasuries "crowd out" financing for the private sector

Charles Perrottet
Partner

Today we examine the second “myth” from Frank Newman’s book Six Myths That Are Holding Back America – the belief that treasury bills compete with private sector organizations for available capital.

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June 26, 2012

Frank Newman's Six Myths - #3: If everyone tries to save more, the nation will save more, and investment, GDP, and employment will increase

Charles Perrottet
Partner

Today we examine the third “myth” from Frank Newman’s book Six Myths That Are Holding Back America – the presumption that increased saving will drive increased investment.

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June 27, 2012

Our National Dialogue, Mid-2012

Patrick Marren
Partner

"What we have here is... failure to communicate."

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June 28, 2012

Best Advertisement for Scenario Consulting Ever?

Patrick Marren
Partner

Today's Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. "Obamacare").

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June 29, 2012

Frank Newman's Six Myths - #4: If the deficit is reduced, then national saving and investment will increase

Charles Perrottet
Partner

Today we examine the fourth “myth” from Frank Newman’s book Six Myths That Are Holding Back America – the presumption that increased saving will drive increased investment.

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July 02, 2012

Frank Newman's Six Myths - #5: Deficits create great burdens of repayment and taxes for our children

Charles Perrottet
Partner

Today we examine the fifth “myth” from Frank Newman’s book Six Myths That Are Holding Back America – that the national debt will be a crippling load for our children and grandchildren to repay.

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July 09, 2012

Frank Newman's Six Myths - #6: If the U.S. does not get its fiscal deficit reduced soon, U.S. Treasuries will face the same problems as bonds of Greece and Ireland

Charles Perrottet
Partner

Today we examine the sixth and final “myth” from Frank Newman’s book Six Myths That Are Holding Back America – the worry that U.S. Treasuries could come to have the same problems of lack of demand due to fear that it will not repay the bonds coupled with escalating interest rates.  As with all the myths, Mr Newman attempts to present the mechanisms that drive international finance.  The policy implications are rich and varied and the subject of legitimate debate.  Scenario planning can and should be used to evaluate alternatives.

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July 12, 2012

400-Word Scenario #1: Clawback World

Patrick Marren
Partner

Scenario planning requires imagination. Everyone likes to pretend that imagination is fun and games. But really, imagination is often very difficult and painful, because it requires us not just to take incremental steps along a pre-existing path, but to make up an entirely different path. (There are gradations of this: from some godlike perspective even truly ingenious innovative thoughts can seem boring and incremental, and from an quotidian perspective simple incremental steps can seem like the moon landing. But I digress.) 

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July 21, 2012

400-Word Scenario #2: The Good Old Days of Gun Violence

Patrick Marren
Partner

July 21, 2042 (Fox/MSNBC News): The nation reacted with a mix of horror, outrage, calls for new laws, and debate over the Second Amendment as the scale of the latest mass murder came into focus over the past two days.

A confirmed total of 212 people, most in the greater Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex, but some as far away as New York and Seattle, are apparently victims of yet another technologically sophisticated, targeted DNA/GPS/UAV attack.

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July 25, 2012

400-Word Scenario #3: Retirement Redistribution

Patrick Marren
Partner

A future scenario of mass wealth redistribution to a generation that just did not save enough for retirement.

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August 07, 2012

My Team's Okay, Your Team's Evil

Patrick Marren
Partner

Jonathan Haidt thinks we're weird. And as scenario consultants, we have to agree.

Actually, he thinks we're WEIRD - as in, "Western Educated Industrialized Rich Democratic." Or at least you live in a country that by world standards corresponds to such adjectives. And if you live in such a country, you may fall into the trap of believing that all moral questions ultimately can be resolved through rationality. That is wrong, according to him.

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August 08, 2012

Search & Replace Theater!

Patrick Marren
Partner

Scenario Planning Fun With the Microsoft Word Search & Replace function: Are we turning Japanese?

I've taken a story from the New York Times and replaced all references to Japan, the yen, etc. with American/dollar terms. This is almost certainly NOT our future in many respects; it is difficult to imagine Americans tolerating stunted economic growth out of an Asian-like reverence for the elderly. But Japan IS demographically ahead of us in terms of the retirement cliff it is facing, so it's an interesting scenario exercise.

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August 16, 2012

Guest 400-Word Scenario #4: MRSA's Deadly Cure?

Guest blogger Andrew Large gives us a scenario of EXACTLY 400 words: nature's possible revenge on an antibiotic-happy human race.

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August 16, 2012

Partisan Hatred Scenario?

Patrick Marren
Partner

A hypothesis: our current terrible state of political dialogue could be an equilibrium that satisfies far deeper emotional longings than any consensus ever could.

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August 21, 2012

400-Word Scenario #5: Revenge of the Real?

Patrick Marren
Partner

The Actual has its revenge upon the Virtual...

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August 28, 2012

Scenario Planning and Truth

Peter Kennedy
Partner

The essential value of scenario planning is not just about constructing cool futuristic stories to “get the client thinking outside the box.” 

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August 30, 2012

Experts Are the Worst Forecasters

Charles Perrottet
Partner

After decades of trying to help clients anticipate the widest range of plausible possible future events, the following quote rings quite true to us: “Those who know more forecast very slightly better than those who know less.  But those with the most knowledge are often least reliable.” 

Daniel Kahneman, a winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, published this conclusion in his book Thinking, Fast and Slow after extensive research including numerous statistical analyses. 

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September 08, 2012

400-Word Scenario #6: Prisoners' Dilemma Nation

Patrick Marren
Partner

Ladies and gentlemen, I have 400 words of bad news: we may look back on 2012 as "the good old days of political cooperation."

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September 14, 2012

The Future of Apple and Us

Patrick Marren
Partner

Your scenario consultants imagine the future of Apple products to 2020...so you don't have to.

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September 19, 2012

400-Word Scenario #7: No More Newspapers

Patrick Marren
Partner

Print newspapers seem to be going away. What happens when they do? It's not all about ink and paper.

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October 02, 2012

Sodium Pentothal Presidential Debate

Patrick Marren
Partner

[Sometimes the best scenario planning we scenario consultants can do is based on scenarios that will never actually occur.] 

JIM LEHRER: Good evening and welcome to the first 2012 presidential debate. This is the 413th debate I have moderated, and quite frankly, if there's a 414th, I will shoot myself in the eye with a nailgun. So independently of the debate organizers, I took it upon myself to break into the green rooms of the contestants and drop some truth serum into each of their elitist Evian water bottles. I'm looking forward to this - I hope you are as well.

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October 12, 2012

Foxy Hedgehogs: "The Signal and the Noise"

Patrick Marren
Partner

Nate Silver's book The Signal and the Noise makes a darned good case for scenario-based strategic planning. 

In it, he raises the old distinction between "hedgehogs" and "foxes," from a fragment by the ancient Greek philosopher Archilochus via Isaiah Berlin: "The fox knows many little things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing."

"Foxes" in this dichotomy are nonideological and open thinkers not wedded to any one theory; they are comfortable with "nuance, uncertainty, complexity, and dissenting opinion."

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October 19, 2012

Why Scenario-Based Planning Beats Prediction

Patrick Marren
Partner

Scenario consultants have an advantage over single-point forecasters like Nate Silver: we're not restricted to single point forecasts. 

Don't get us wrong: Nate Silver is as good as it gets when it comes to single-point forecasts, and as honest about their limitations.  But that undeniable fact just further dramatizes how dangerous point forecasting can be.

Just to illustrate, let's take the current ongoing presidential hoo-hah. 

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October 25, 2012

Nate Silver and Data-Recency Bias

Patrick Marren
Partner

One more thought provoked by Nate Silver's thought-provoking The Signal and the Noise.

It's about the seductiveness of data and cool, overly precise models.

(In comparison, say, to scenario-based planning? Sorry, the scenario consultants in us always rear their ugly, pragmatic, self-promoting heads. We gotta work on that.)

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November 01, 2012

Scenario Planning, Hurricane Sandy, and Relationships

Patrick Marren
Partner

This has been a ridiculously busy and stressful week for three of our recent scenario-based strategic planning clients: the United States Coast Guard, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

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November 02, 2012

A Momentary Violation of Scenario Planning Principles

Patrick Marren
Partner

A scenario consultant gives in to the American temptation to make an EXTREMELY precise single-point forecast.

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November 16, 2012

Idea-less in Gaza

Patrick Marren
Partner

Now that the happy horserace of the election is over, on to some grimmer scenarios. 

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November 22, 2012

400-Word Scenario #9: Thanksgiving 2042

Patrick Marren
Partner

"Now let us all join hands and give thanks for all we have this day.

"First, for our gas generator that saved us when the power grid went down yet again last night. It costs four times as much as our fathers' power bill, but it's there when we need it and it keeps our electric fence going when the Others try to enter our yard. 

"Second, for our advanced weaponry and the Iron Dome that defends us from all enemies, domestic and...well, mostly domestic. Our new rooftop electromagnetic pulse gun stops the Others before they even reach the security perimeter moat. 

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November 30, 2012

Coastal Reconstruction Scenario Planning: Superstorm Sandy and the Retreat Option

Peter Kennedy
Partner

Sometimes leaders do not have the luxury of taking the long view; sometimes high-impact events compel hard decisions to be made now. 

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December 03, 2012

A Scenario Planning Bulletin

Patrick Marren
Partner

Hot Breaking News on the Fiscal Cliff!

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December 10, 2012

SCENARIO PLANNING BULLETIN: End of World Is Upon Us

Patrick Marren
Partner

DECEMBER 10, 2012 (QLS News) Hang on to your hats and forget the Mayans: scenario-based planning may suddenly have become a much simpler game. The world is ending December 31, 2012. 

News of the impending apocalypse was revealed by analysts at the University of South Vegas Department of Calendricalosity.

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December 28, 2012

2012: Five Inevitable Things That Did Not Happen

Patrick Marren
Partner

Five things that were "bound to occur," away from which we rashly predict the media will moonwalk at warp speed in 2013.

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January 07, 2013

Inauguration Scenario

Patrick Marren
Partner

January 21, 2013. Two men warily approach each other in front of tens of thousands of people.

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January 14, 2013

400-Word Scenario #10: Fiscal Ramp to Prosperity

Patrick Marren
Partner

February 14, 2013 [Wolf News/MSDNC]: In a Valentine's Day miracle, Congress and the administration today reached a long-term deal on the debt ceiling, taxes, and fiscal reform.

A group of rogue bipartisan realists from perfectly safe seats - the Washington DC and Guam delegates and the observer team from McMurdo Station, Antarctica, spurred along by a contingent of visiting Marines and Seal Team members glowering down from Senate and House galleries, publicly wondering exactly what they have been risking their lives to preserve - have brokered a deal to end the budget logjam. 

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January 18, 2013

400-Word Scenario #8*: Manti Te'o World

Patrick Marren
Partner

The Manti Te'o events of this past week have caused your scenario planning consultants to think bad thoughts about the future.

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January 24, 2013

U.S. Poverty Scenarios

Peter Kennedy
Partner

Some 15 percent of Americans live below the poverty line.  How much can the Obama administration do in four years to improve that situation?

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January 31, 2013

Thirteen: Year of Magical Thinking

Patrick Marren
Partner

Too many hands.

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February 08, 2013

De Rerum Mutandorum

Patrick Marren
Partner

 

Institutions change faster and more completely than we think. An example from some recent reading: Harvard University.

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February 14, 2013

The Valley of the Shadow

Patrick Marren
Partner

WIll the great institutions of society learn how to live with transparency before transparency destroys them?

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February 18, 2013

Papal Scenarios

Patrick Marren
Partner

Knowing the future sounds great... but what about afterwards?

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February 19, 2013

Reasons for Scenario Planning: February 19

Patrick Marren
Partner

Scenario planning is necessary because things happen all the time that have never happened before.

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February 20, 2013

February 20: Things That Had Never Happened Before

Patrick Marren
Partner

Every day something happens that has never happened before. So you should be creating scenarios to anticipate the truly novel.

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February 21, 2013

February 21: Novelties

Patrick Marren
Partner

Some people see things that are and say "Why?" We see things that never were and say, "This would make a good scenario-based planning exercise."

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February 22, 2013

February 22: Expect the Unexpected

Patrick Marren
Partner

All along the untrodden paths of the future, I can see the footprints of an unseen hand. - Sir Boyle Roche

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February 23, 2013

The 23rd of February: Unexpected Scenarios

Patrick Marren
Partner

The more things change, the more they create new and unexpected scenarios.

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February 24, 2013

2/24: Things That Happened for the First Time

Patrick Marren
Partner

Some scenarios that happened for the first time, seem to be happening again?

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February 25, 2013

Unprecedented: February 25

Patrick Marren
Partner

Every day something happens for which a lot of experts did not do scenario planning.

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February 26, 2013

Unexpected Developments: February 26

Patrick Marren
Partner

Scenario planning is about imagining the improbable; here are some improbable things that happened on this date.

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February 27, 2013

Scenario Planning in History: February 27

Patrick Marren
Partner

Some are born scenario planning; some achieve scenario planning; others have scenario planning thrust upon them by the Futures Strategy Group. We hope you will soon be among the latter.

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February 28, 2013

Last day of February: Scenarios Unplanned For

Patrick Marren
Partner

It's not what you don't know that gets you, it's what you don't do scenario planning for.

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March 01, 2013

March First? Scenario Plan First, Then March

Patrick Marren
Partner

Things that happened on March 1 through history with which scenario planning might have helped.

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March 03, 2013

3/2 Events

Patrick Marren
Partner

Things that happened for which scenario planning was or might have been useful on this date in history.

537: Ostrogoths begin a siege of Rome. Belisarius almost gets caught outside the walls, but makes it inside in time to lead a successful long-term resistance to the siege (probably thanks to a primitive form of scenario planning).

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March 03, 2013

Third Day, Third Month

Patrick Marren
Partner

Scenario planning (or its lack) through history - March 3.

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March 04, 2013

March 4 Historical Notes

Patrick Marren
Partner

March 4th... but not before doing some scenario planning.

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March 04, 2013

Scenario Planning: Warren Buffett, Gottfried von Leibniz, Blaise Pascal, and Peter Bernstein

Gerard Smith
Associate

Why these people would think scenario planning was awesome.

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March 05, 2013

5 March: Historical Scenarios

Patrick Marren
Partner

Things that happened on March 5 knowledge of which might spark some ideas for scenario planning.

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March 06, 2013

March 6: That Just Happened

Patrick Marren
Partner

Scenarios mean never having to say you're sorry.

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March 07, 2013

March 7 History Scenarios

Patrick Marren
Partner

Some days you just think you know; on those days, you should do scenario planning.

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March 08, 2013

Today in Scenario History

Patrick Marren
Partner

Scenarios are about now...and then. Some things that happened now, back then.

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March 08, 2013

I've Seen the Future, Brother - It Is Murder

Patrick Marren
Partner

Sink on, sink on/O leaky ship of state.

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March 09, 2013

March 9: Scenario Tidbits

Patrick Marren
Partner

March 9th, if you can't march tenth or eleventh. 

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March 10, 2013

Scenario Fodder: March 10

Patrick Marren
Partner

Things that happened back then, that might happen in some scenario again.

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March 11, 2013

March 11 Scenario Fodder

Patrick Marren
Partner

Hello mother, hello father/Here's scenario planning fodder.

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March 12, 2013

Scenario Fodder: March 12

Patrick Marren
Partner

Your breakfast of scenario planning fodder is served.

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March 13, 2013

March the Unlucky Through History

Patrick Marren
Partner

If these things had not happened on March 13 in the past, they might have made darned good scenarios.

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March 14, 2013

3/14 Scenario Nuggets from History

Patrick Marren
Partner

You may be done with the past, but the past is not done with scenarios.

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March 15, 2013

Beware the Ides of Scenarios

Patrick Marren
Partner

If Julius Caesar had done scenario planning, Shakespeare might have been a little more funny and a little less stabby.

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March 16, 2013

March 16 Scenario Fodder

Patrick Marren
Partner

Scenarios that might not have happened on March 16 through history...but, in fact, did.

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March 16, 2013

Top of the Scenarios to Ye!

Patrick Marren
Partner

Your St. Patrick's Day March 17 scenario planning fodder.

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March 19, 2013

Scenario History Shall Continue...

Patrick Marren
Partner

After a slight break.

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March 25, 2013

March 25: Scenario Fodder

Patrick Marren
Partner

After a week off for vacation, scenario planning fodder returns.

1306: Robert the Bruce becomes KIng of Scotland, seven months and two days after William Wallace is hanged, drawn and quartered in London. It will take him eight years to establish de facto control via the Battle of Bannockburn; then he will invade Ireland and northern England in attempts to establish a "Pan-Gaelic Greater Scotia." It doesn't really catch on, most historians believe due to the haggis. 

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March 25, 2013

A really, really, REALLY long-term scenario

Patrick Marren
Partner

Lawrence Krauss says we know more about where the universe came from right now than beings in the far-distant future possibly could. 

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March 26, 2013

March 26 Scenario Planning Nuggets

Patrick Marren
Partner

That...scenario...did NOT...just...happen. But it happened on this date.

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March 27, 2013

March 27: This Day in Scenario History

Patrick Marren
Partner

The past is prologue to future scenario planners.

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March 28, 2013

March 28 in Scenario History

Patrick Marren
Partner

The past is prologue for scenario planning.

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March 29, 2013

29th of March Scenarios from the Past

Patrick Marren
Partner

Scenarios that happened for the first time on March 29 seem to be happening again. Or not.

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March 30, 2013

March 30 Historical Scenario Planning Nuggets

Patrick Marren
Partner

Scenarios that occurred on this date through history.

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March 31, 2013

30 Scenarios Has September...but March Has 31

Patrick Marren
Partner

Scenarios that occurred on the last day of March through history.

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April 01, 2013

April Fools' Scenarios!

Patrick Marren
Partner

Some scenarios that may or may not have occurred on the first of April through history.

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April 02, 2013

4/2 Historical Scenario Notes

Patrick Marren
Partner

In honor of yesterday's Opening Day, some baseball birthday scenarios.

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April 03, 2013

April 3 Historical Scenarios

Patrick Marren
Partner

Things that might inspire scenario planners to commit scenario planning that happened on this date. 

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April 04, 2013

4/4 Historical Footnotes

Patrick Marren
Partner

Improbable scenarios that happened on the 4th of April through history.

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April 04, 2013

Productivity in a Ditch? Some Scenario Planning Reactions

Peter Kennedy
Partner

With the Internet revolution already established, are the best days of productivity growth – and therefore income growth – behind us?  That worrisome question is popping out of the trends in growth in non-farm output.  But it’s possible the best is yet to come. 

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April 05, 2013

Fifth of April: Scenarios from History

Patrick Marren
Partner

Russians on ice, Native Americans, Finland as bellwether for America, an anti-democracy riot, and one giant cool explosion.

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April 06, 2013

VI Aprilis: Scenarii

Patrick Marren
Partner

Scenarios of the future! Only, we have to pretend they didn't already happen on April 6 in previous years. 

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April 07, 2013

April 7 Scenario Nuggets

Patrick Marren
Partner

Things that happened on April 7 through history.

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April 10, 2013

4-10: Not Just Kerry Strug's Height

Patrick Marren
Partner

The past is prologue to scenario consultants. Things that happened on April 10 through history.

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April 09, 2013

April 9 Through History

Patrick Marren
Partner

If you had anticipated these things happening before they did, on April 9 throughout history, we might have hired you as a scenario consultant. If we had been around.

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April 08, 2013

April 8 Scenario Plan-O-Genic Historic Events

Patrick Marren
Partner

Things that happened on April 8 through history that might cause one to say, "Hmmm."

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April 22, 2013

The Boston Marathon Bombing, Al Gore, Byron Reese, and Scenario Planning

Patrick Marren
Partner

While the surreal drama of the Marathon Bombing and the subsequent manhunt was going on last week, I was reading two books about the future.

I was expecting to be annoyed by Al Gore's book The Future, and to be energized by Byron Reese's Infinite Progress. But it didn't quite turn out that way.

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April 28, 2013

Scenario Planning, 100 Years Ago and Now

Patrick Marren
Partner

Reading a book about 1913 Vienna illuminates a 2013 book about a future of inevitable progress.

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May 08, 2013

The War on the Future

Patrick Marren
Partner

Some say our era is dominated by the war between the left and the right. But the real war right now is the war of the present against the future. 

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May 10, 2013

Two Scenarios of the Future, a Century Apart

Patrick Marren
Partner

A spooky resonance between 2013 and 1913.

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May 30, 2013

400-Word Scenario #11: The Gray Revolution

Patrick Marren
Partner

A bill of rights for the elderly?

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June 10, 2013

Edward Snowden, Government Surveillance and the Future

Patrick Marren
Partner

Scenarios of future surveillance.

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June 18, 2013

Dearly Beloved

Patrick Marren
Partner

Scenario planning for the inevitable.

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June 27, 2013

Two Very Bad Scenario Planning Data Points

Patrick Marren
Partner

Illinois and Ireland and the downside of austerity.

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July 15, 2013

Scenario Planning for the "Overexamined" Life

Patrick Marren
Partner

"It's rampant narcissism!" our client said last week, exasperated. 

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August 02, 2013

How Doctors - and We - Think

Patrick Marren
Partner

Scenarios are like second, third, fourth and fifth opinions.

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August 14, 2013

Airline Scenarios: American-US Airways

Patrick Marren
Partner

Normally we are into alternative scenarios. But airlines seem to be stuck in one scenario.

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August 15, 2013

The Inevitable Not Happening?

Patrick Marren
Partner

The importance of including the seemingly impossible when writing scenarios.

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August 28, 2013

Mideast Scenarios, or "Damn, We're Good"

Patrick Marren
Partner

Where will the Arab Spring and Syria take the Middle East? Well, we kind of called it in 2011.

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September 03, 2013

RIP, Ronald Coase 1910-2013

Patrick Marren
Partner

The legendary and ageless Ronald Coase has finally left the scene.

In honor of the great economist and thinker, we offer an article about his work from six years ago.

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September 10, 2013

Every Day Is September 10

Patrick Marren
Partner

Happy Future Scenarios Awareness Day.

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October 01, 2013

A Letter to a Great Client

Patrick Marren
Partner

I've had this one written in my head for at least ten years, because some clients are so good that you take nothing for granted.

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October 10, 2013

What, Us Worry?

Patrick Marren
Partner

The Financial Times has a story that causes our eyebrows to rise well above half-mast this morning.

 

With Greek banks' splendid history of rigorous management and Wall Street hedge funds' impeccable eye for risk and record of spreading nothing but goodness and light in countries in which they invest, what could possibly go wrong? 

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October 16, 2013

2012 (and 2011) Redux

Patrick Marren
Partner

Another blast from the past for your enjoyment, as we twiddle our thumbs as Washington flicks lit matches around a gunpowder factory, just as it did at the end of 2012 and in mid-2011 (and will do again next year).

http://www.futuresstrategygroup.com/blog/pmarren/scenario-planning-bulletin

 

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November 07, 2013

Robust Near-Earth Asteroid Scenarios

Peter Kennedy
Partner

Scenario planners are always on the lookout for "wild cards" -- low-probability, high-impact events that can occur across multiple scenarios.  Like near-Earth asteroids.

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November 22, 2013

JFK + 50: Alternative Scenarios

Patrick Marren
Partner

A few thoughts on this anniversary...

If JFK had lived:

1. He had started back-channel communications with Castro a few weeks before his death, so our relations with Cuba might have been very different.

2. He had also begun discussions with his advisors about an exit strategy from Vietnam. Some experts think he would have stayed in Vietnam; others, including some of his closest advisors, think he would have gotten out in a second term. It seems unlikely that he would have escalated as aggressively as LBJ.

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January 06, 2014

Positive Economic Scenarios for 2014

Peter Kennedy
Partner

At the start of 2014, the U.S. economy is looking brighter than it has been since the onset of the financial crisis.  But should we still be worried?

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January 28, 2014

Scenario Planning Bible

Patrick Marren
Partner

The U.S. Coast Guard releases version 3.0 of Creating and Sustaining Strategic Intent in the U.S. Coast Guard.

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February 04, 2014

The Future Mental Olympics?

Patrick Marren
Partner

David Brooks has a column today about the effect computing technology might have on the sorts of intellectual skills humans will value in the future.

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February 21, 2014

US Consumer Scenarios: How Are We Doing?

Peter Kennedy
Partner

The economy in 2014 is certainly on a much stronger footing than it was a few years ago, but is this as good as it will get for the U.S. consumer?

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March 09, 2014

Scenario Perspectives on California Drought

Peter Kennedy
Partner

Is the current California drought about climate change or some periodically recurring rainfall shortage?  The experts don't agree.  Which is why planners affected by this situation should rigorously think through multiple scenarios -- and their implications.

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April 04, 2014

The Biggest Economic Trend of Our Lifetimes

Patrick Marren
Partner

Has no one noticed the main fact about our country over the past 13 years?

A couple of years ago I wrote an article entitled Strategy's Main Failure: The Extermination of Livelihood.

In it, I came up with the hypothesis that much of what has passed for "strategy" the past decade or more had actually been about cost cutting, and in particular, cost-cutting of the largest line-item: labor. 

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April 07, 2014

Unknown Unknowns, Scenarios and Strategic Judgment

Peter Kennedy
Partner

Errol Morris’s documentary on Donald Rumsfeld is in the theatres. The film, plus a companion four-part series on the former secretary of defense in the The New York Times, raises interesting questions about knowledge, uncertainty and corporate strategy.

  

 
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June 28, 2014

One Hundred Years Ago Today

Patrick Marren
Partner

100 years ago today, according to a late friend of ours.

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August 26, 2014

ISIS, Hitler, Orwell

Patrick Marren
Partner

A war with no "good" side. 

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