October 26, 2005

News & Opinion: The Way The World Might Be

By: 800-CEO-READ @ 2:33 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

Can anybody really predict the future? No.

What is interesting though is what Royal Dutch/Shell did in the 1980's and 1990's with scenario planning. Fast Company did an article in July 2002 on how scenario planning changed the course of the entire company.

What grew out of that thinking was the Global Business Network. This was a group that included Peter Schwartz (The Art of the Long View), Jay Ogilvy (Creating Better Futures), Napier Collyns, Stewart Brand, and Lawrence Wilkinson. The idea was to continue the evolution of scenario planning and scenario thinking.

The current GBN CEO is Eamonn Kelly and he has a book out from Wharton Business School Publishing called Powerful Times: Rising To The Challenge of Our Uncertain World. It reminds me of a more academic version of Funky Business.

Kelly describes extensively what is going on in the complex world around us. The meat of the explanation is given in dichotomies (clarity vs. craziness, secular vs. sacred, technology accleration vs. pushback, prosperity vs. decline). After laying out the case, he asks two questions - "Will sources of innovation, leadership and change be centralized or decentralized?" and "Will the United States exert more or less influence globally?" He shows alternate scenarios for what the world might look like as the answers to those questions varies.

For you crystal ball watchers out there, it may be worth a look.