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 28, 2012

Scenario Planning and Truth

Peter Kennedy
Partner

The essential value of scenario planning is not just about constructing cool futuristic stories to “get the client thinking outside the box.” Read more

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July 02, 2012

Frank Newman's Six Myths - #5: Deficits create great burdens of repayment and taxes for our children

Charles Perrottet
Partner

Today we examine the fifth “myth” from Frank Newman’s book Six Myths That Are Holding Back America – that the national debt will be a crippling load for our children and grandchildren to repay.

These days it seems that we get a constant stream of articles proclaiming that we are bankrupting our children and grandchildren through the massive national debt that we are compiling.  While the numbers are very large, the argument that it is a burden to our offspring implicitly compares the national budget to a family budget.  This is intuitively appealing, but misses...Read more

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June 29, 2012

Frank Newman's Six Myths - #4: If the deficit is reduced, then national saving and investment will increase

Charles Perrottet
Partner

Today we examine the fourth “myth” from Frank Newman’s book Six Myths That Are Holding Back America – the presumption that increased saving will drive increased investment.

By definition, the government will reduce the deficit when it spends less than it receives.  Everything that the government receives comes from the private sector (either from taxes or the sale of Treasuries) and everything that it spends eventually finds its way back to the private sector.  If the government collects more than it spends it creates “Government Savings”.   On the other side of the...Read more

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June 22, 2012

Frank Newman's Six Myths -#2: Treasuries "crowd out" financing for the private sector

Charles Perrottet
Partner

Today we examine the second “myth” from Frank Newman’s book Six Myths That Are Holding Back America – the belief that treasury bills compete with private sector organizations for available capital.

Some of this confusion comes from the “fallacy of composition.” Paul Samuelson defined this as “A fallacy in which what is true of a part is, on that account alone, alleged to be also true for the whole.”  A simple example from arithmetic would be that since 1 and 3 are both odd numbers, then the number 4, which is made up of 1 and 3, must also be odd.  In economics it is clear...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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May 16, 2012

Types of Scenario Planning

by Charles Thomas

The term “scenario planning” encompasses a surprisingly diverse range of activities. While there are many potential schemes for categorizing these activities, the discussion below presents a fairly comprehensive view of them, and indicates – if imperfectly – the relationships among the various approaches.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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