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:

1. "The future is ever-changing." No it isn't. The...Read more

More »
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)...Read more

More »
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

A wave of revolution is sweeping North Africa and the Middle East. Many people want to know what is going to happen next. Will it be good for the United States or bad? Will it result in peace-loving democracies or America-hating Islamist dictatorships? No one knows. It is important to remember at this moment that not even a single movement in a single country has yet achieved anything approaching what we would call “democracy.” The present is chaotic and...Read more

More »
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.Read more

More »
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.

Meanwhile, the real substance...Read more

More »
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.Read more

More »
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.

Even those considered great presidents make big mistakes. FDR tried to pack the Supreme...Read more

More »
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. Read more

More »
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.Read more

More »
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.

Right now, the big US banks are grateful for new financial accounting regulations easing “mark-to-market” rules. That is apt to make their...Read more

More »

Pages