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 23, 2012

Prediction vs. Scenario Planning: What’s Your Goal?

Peter Kennedy
Managing Principal

Nate Silver is not a household name in the scenario-planning world, not yet anyhow.  But FSG partner Patrick Marren has discovered in Silver’s writings a lot of rich fodder for scenario thought, of interest to strategists, planners and risk managers.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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October 05, 2012

Breaking New Scenario-Planning Ground with the USCG

Peter Kennedy
Managing Principal

In late September, FSG facilitated a three-day scenario-planning workshop in Westminster, MD as part of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Project Evergreen long-range planning process. Read more

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October 02, 2012

Sodium Pentothal Presidential Debate

Patrick Marren
Partner

[Sometimes the best scenario planning we scenario consultants can do is based on scenarios that will never actually occur.] 

JIM LEHRER: Good evening and welcome to the first 2012 presidential debate. This is the 413th debate I have moderated, and quite frankly, if there's a 414th, I will shoot myself in the eye with a nailgun. So independently of the debate organizers, I took it upon myself to break into the green rooms of the contestants and drop some truth serum into each of their elitist Evian water bottles. I'm looking forward to this - I hope you are as well.

Now, Mr....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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September 07, 2012

Scenario Consultants' Wisdom

Peter Kennedy
Managing Principal

Since re-launching our website earlier this year, FSG has been steadily building up content that sheds light on some of the biggest things we have learned over more than 20 years working together as scenario consultants for some of the most dynamic enterprises in the world.  While many other strategy and scenario consultants shy away from sharing best practices, we don’t.  We think it’s important for any organization considering a scenario planning engagement to know what’s ahead for them – not just the process steps, but key lessons learned along the way.  Those lessons we’ve worked hard...Read more

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