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.

His new book The Righteous Mind: Why Good...Read more

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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.Read more

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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.) 

However, imagination, pain in the posterior though it...Read more

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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.

U.S. Treasuries are widely regarded as the...Read more

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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. 

Organizational leaders...Read more

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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.

Organizations build structures that they believe will maximize their chances of success, balancing them off, of course, with the demands of physical reality, the limitations of space, time, and communication, and the whims of...Read more

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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.Read more

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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:

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

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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

The Nobel-winning economist and psychologist Daniel Kahneman published a book late last year entitled Thinking, Fast and Slow. In it, he distinguishes between two modes of thinking used by humans. The first is System 1: fast, automatic and intuitive. It suffices for the vast majority of our everyday purposes. We don't need to think deeply about not touching hot stoves, which leg to put our pants on first, or...Read more

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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. Read more

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