Helping great organizations turn uncertainty into advantage.


Scenario Planning 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. We hope to provide students and practitioners of strategic foresight and scenario planning with both food for expansive thinking and practical tips on strategy, scenario development and strategy execution. 

FSG is particularly proud of the profile of our scenario planning work with the US Coast Guard, which appeared in the July/Aug 2020 edition of the Harvard Business Review

Scenarios for the 2020 Presidential Election – and Its Aftermath

Futures Strategy Group Principals
There are few if any events as consequential for the future as a US presidential election. We have created four short-term scenarios exploring a range of

Medicine in 2035: Selected Insights from ACGME's Scenario Planning

Thomas J. Nasca, MD and Charles W. Thomas
If any US industry begs for scenario planning, it is health care.  Demographics, technology, government finances, provider mega-mergers and changing public expectations are converging in complex

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. 

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.

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

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.

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

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

Patrick Marren

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." 

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. 

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).

Business Strategiastes

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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. 

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

Living in the Present

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

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

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.

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,

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

Losing the Bubble

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

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,

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.

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

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,

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.

Parables of Consulting

Patrick Marren
Purely humorous tales of Satan, the First Consultant. 

Right and Left Brain Strategies

Patrick Marren
Are Left Brain Strategies Superior? One of the most intractable problems in business strategy is the fact that here are two basic types of people:

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.” 

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

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? 

Who Is the Client?

Patrick Marren
Scenario planning clients are a unique breed, as they tend to be committed as much to the long-term success of an organization as they are

Strategic Planning After 9/11: Planning for Disruptive Events

Peter Kennedy, Charles Perrottet and Charles Thomas
Much has been written about 9/11 strategic planning. The authors discuss the use of scenario planning in light of disruptive events.

Futurists’ Fallacies: Common Errors in Long-Range Planning

Patrick Marren
Fundamental long range planning errors are neither rare nor unavoidable. But why do respected planners so often fail to anticipate seismic events?  Here we explore

Where Did All the Knowledge Go?

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

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

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

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.

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

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.

Profitably Shared Delusions

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

Grading Myself

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

Brand Spanking

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

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.  

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. 

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.”