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.
Scenarios for the 2020 Presidential Election – and Its Aftermath
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
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
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
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
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
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
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The Devil’s Dictionary of Business Strategy
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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
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?
Review of Walter Kiechel III’s The Lords of Strategy: The Secret Intellectual History of the Corporate World (Harvard Business Press).
To every thing there is a season, and to this season Patrick Marren has written this thing.
“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
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
“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
The Enterprise Risk Management discipline is still new, and few companies have done it all and done it right.
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
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.
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
An article “from the future” illustrating the trend away from serious strategy and planning in American companies.
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
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
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
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
The strategy process can often produce results that are the opposite of what the organization either expects or needs.
Shininess vs Usefulness
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
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
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
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
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
Purely humorous tales of Satan, the First Consultant.
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,
The Forgivable Sin
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
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
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?
Should planners maximize the prospects of the current organization and its management, or plan for long-term organizational success?
Strategic Planning After 9/11: Planning for Disruptive Events
The authors discuss the use of scenario planning in light of disruptive events.
Futurists’ Fallacies: Common Errors in Long-Range Planning
Why do respected planners so often fail to predict seismic events? A better way to plan: scenario planning.
Where Did All the Knowledge Go?
A discussion of the rise and [relative] fall of the knowledge management movement in business.
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 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 discusses how September 11 changed the way strategic planners must look at their companies' futures.
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
This article examines first principles of “business strategy” in a way that most of us are unconscious of normally.
Profitably Shared Delusions
A review of the importance of mass shared beliefs in shaping economies, markets, nations, and business strategies.
A demonstration of the perils of prediction in a unique way.
Patrick Marren discusses systems of categorization – what do you do when something doesn't quite fit?
A New Era?
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…
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.”