January 31, 2013

Thirteen: Year of Magical Thinking

Patrick Marren
Partner

Too many hands.Read more

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December 28, 2012

2012: Five Inevitable Things That Did Not Happen

Patrick Marren
Partner

Five things that were "bound to occur," away from which we rashly predict the media will moonwalk at warp speed in 2013.Read more

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December 03, 2012

A Scenario Planning Bulletin

Patrick Marren
Partner

Hot Breaking News on the Fiscal Cliff!Read more

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November 02, 2012

A Momentary Violation of Scenario Planning Principles

Patrick Marren
Partner

A scenario consultant gives in to the American temptation to make an EXTREMELY precise single-point forecast.Read more

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November 01, 2012

Scenario Planning, Hurricane Sandy, and Relationships

Patrick Marren
Partner

This has been a ridiculously busy and stressful week for three of our recent scenario-based strategic planning clients: the United States Coast Guard, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

As of last night, reports from the Port Authority show that power has not yet been restored to port facilities in Newark, Bayonne and Brooklyn. A glance at the on-line Automated Information System shows that the only vessels at Port Newark and Port Elizabeth, the massive facilities that serve so much of America's shipping needs, are tugs...Read more

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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 19, 2012

Why Scenario-Based Planning Beats Prediction

Patrick Marren
Partner

Scenario consultants have an advantage over single-point forecasters like Nate Silver: we're not restricted to single point forecasts. 

Don't get us wrong: Nate Silver is as good as it gets when it comes to single-point forecasts, and as honest about their limitations.  But that undeniable fact just further dramatizes how dangerous point forecasting can be.

Just to illustrate, let's take the current ongoing presidential hoo-hah. 

Silver's Five Thirty Eight blog, as of this morning, had President Obama's odds of winning the presidency at 70.4%. This is up from 61.1% a...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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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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June 20, 2012

We're Doomed! No, We're Saved! Euro Scenarios

Patrick Marren
Partner

Scenario consulting has rarely had a better promotional material than Europe has been pumping out the past year or so. Uncertainty abounds.

Sunday's election in Greece has once again caused the Very Serious People in Europe to breathe a sigh of relief. "New Democracy, the mainline conservative party that wants to stay in the euro, won the election and can form a government! We're saved!" 

But Sunday's result guarantees nothing. The ultimate fate of Greece's membership in the Euro Zone rests not on which party is in power – the Coalition of the Radical Left, Syriza, had also...Read more

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