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.)

Silver brought back to the surface an idea I (and others, such as Nasim Nicholas Taleb) have had before, but especially since the financial crash of 2008: accelerating advances in technology and data-gathering create a new sort of bias that...Read more

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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."

"Hedgehogs," by contrast, are "Type A personalities who...Read more

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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.Read more

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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.Read more

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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."Read more

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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. 

One of his sources was work done by Philip Tetlock, a psychologist at the...Read more

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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...Read more

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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.Read more

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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.Read more

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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.

(Link to original story: ...Read more

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