Home » Agenda-Setting Foresight
The Oracle Partnership specialises in agenda-setting foresight, great writing about the future and strategic advice.
We bring together some of the world’s leading thinkers and a range of artificial intelligence tools to deliver editorially independent, agenda-setting foresight, focused on strategic risk, big ideas and game-changing invention. We develop sophisticated futures scenarios, delivering intelligence and monitoring emerging risk and opportunities. Our bespoke advisory services include stress testing and strategic hedging.
In an age of accelerating complexity and radical uncertainty, imaginative foresight has more value than data, information or knowledge. We provide a source of original ideas, creativity and innovation.
We explore extreme scenarios, providing a framework for inventing hedging strategies that will work, whatever may happen. In an age still dominated by short-term thinking, we take the long view.
At the same time, we aim to deliver iconoclastic views and early warnings of political upheavals, financial market crises and fundamental structural shocks to industry. We look for weak signals and tell-tale early signs of political and economic disruption, policy changes, sudden shifts in public sentiment and transformative technologies, long before they go mainstream. Contrary to conventional wisdom, we believe that there should be few surprises.
Our team of world-class talent, specialist writers and sources of intelligence, is led by Peter Kingsley, Thierry Malleret and Simon Tilford.
Peter Kingsley, Chairman and Co-Founder chaired PJR, a specialist foresight and strategic advisory firm. He has provided foresight and thought leadership to major financial institutions, corporate boards and wealth managers for more than 20 years. Earlier in his career, he held senior strategic positions at Reuters and Dow Jones, amongst other things designing information and editorial services. He was a partner at Stanford Research Institute’s futures think tank. His more recent work has included advising the leadership teams of international banks; the senior partner of a major hedge fund; the leadership team of one of Lloyd’s largest insurance underwriters; one of the world’s leading software companies; a regulator; one of the world’s largest water engineering firms; and several utility firms. He originated, designed and led the Coutts ‘Futurescope’ foresight and thought leadership programme.
Thierry Malleret, Co-Founder, is also co-founder of the Monthly Barometer and was managing partner of Rainbow Insight, which provided tailor-made intelligence to investors. Prior to that he founded and headed the Global Risk Network at the World Economic Forum, a network that brings together top opinion and policymakers, CEOs and academics to look at how global issues might effect business and society in the short and long term. His earlier experience includes investment banking; work as an economist at the EBRD; and three years in the Prime Minister’s office in Paris. His most recent book, co-authored with Klaus Schwab, is COVID-19: The Great Reset .
Simon Tilford, Director, is an economist and political scientist. His work has centred on understanding the drivers of economic, political, technological and environmental change, and advising governments, businesses and other actors how they can prepare for, and respond to, such change. He previously ran the economics programme at the Centre for European Reform, turning the organisation into one of the most respected voices on European political economy. He was also chief economist at the Tony Blair Institute and performed a number of roles at the Economist Group. Simon has acted as an advisor to the European Commission, national governments and central banks, as well as various financial institutions, multinationals and business federations. He has been published widely, including in the Financial Times, New York Times, Project Syndicate and Foreign Affairs.
John Cronin is Managing Director and Chairman of ipCapital Group, Inc. (ipCG), an intellectual property consulting firm.
He founded ipCG, now the largest specialist IP strategy consulting team in the world, in 1998. Drawing on a lifelong study of creative and inventive thinking processes, business strategy development, and transaction negotiations, he has created a unique methodology that includes powerful data driven IP creation and asset management. This provides clients with unique invention and IP creation services. The methodology provides for extraction and documentation of inventions, identifying opportunity and risk, and driving transactions to completion.
John has worked with over 1200 companies: about 15% of the Fortune 500, hundreds of mid-size companies and hundreds of start-ups and governmental laboratories. He has inspired and trained thousands of engineers and scientists in the best practices of “how to invent.”
Prior to forming ipCG, he spent over 17 years at IBM and became its top inventor with over 100 patents and 150 patent publications. He created and ran the IBM Patent Factory, which helped IBM become number one in US patents, and led the team that contributed to the start-up and success of IBM’s licensing program.
Nancy Edwards Cronin is a President & Managing Partner of ipCG. With more than 20 years consulting experience, she serves as an advisor to companies that seek to solve challenges of innovation and intellectual property (IP), grow their business opportunities and increase competitive advantage.
Using the ipCapital methodology and bespoke consulting services, she leads engagements to address client issues in areas of IP intelligence, strategy, management, creation and innovation. The many industries and technology areas served include energy and environmental technology, chemical manufacturing, construction and building materials, consumer products, electronics, food and beverages, home automation, health and wellness, medical devices, on-demand services, software, semiconductors, 3D printing, and wearable devices.
Prior to joining ipCapital Group, she was a senior environmental engineer for Montgomery Watson (MW), an international engineering consulting firm. Her focus at MW included innovative and remedial technologies and knowledge management.
Ryan Abbott, MD, JD, MTOM, PhD, is Professor of Law and Health Sciences at the University of Surrey School of Law and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Medicine at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He is the author of “The Reasonable Robot: Artificial Intelligence and the Law” and has written widely on issues associated with law and technology, health law, and intellectual property in leading legal, medical, and scientific books and journals. Professor Abbott’s research has been featured prominently in the media, including in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and the Financial Times. He has served as an expert for, among others, the World Health Organization, the World Intellectual Property Organization, the European Commission, and the Parliament of the United Kingdom.
Stephen Bayley is an author, critic, columnist, consultant, broadcaster, curator and founding director of the influential Design Museum in London. Over the past thirty years his writing has changed the way the world thinks about design. He is the author of many books, including most recently ‘Death Drive’ and ‘Taste’.
Tom Burke is the Chairman of E3G, (Third Generation Environmentalism), and a Visiting Professor at both Imperial and University Colleges, London. He is a Senior Associate at the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership. He is Chairman of the China Dialogue Trust and a Trustee of Black-E Community Arts Project, Liverpool. He was Environmental Policy Advisor to Rio Tinto plc (part time) 1996 -2016 and served as Senior Advisor to the U.K. Foreign Secretary’s Special Representative on Climate Change from 2006-12.
Mathew Burrows, retired in 2013 from a 28-year career in the CIA and State Department, the last ten spent at the National Intelligence Council, the premier analytic unit in the US Intelligence Community, where he authored the highly praised ‘Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds’. He is now director of the Atlantic Council’s Foresight, Strategy and Risks Initiative, working with an array of governments, business, multilateral institutions and NGOs on analysing trends and scenarios. His recent book is ‘The Future Declassified: Megatrends that Will Undo the World Unless We Take Action’.
Ravi Chaudhry was formerly chairman of four Tata Group companies in India. He is the founder Chairman of CeNext Consulting and Investment Pvt Ltd, New Delhi, a firm that advises corporations, governments and non-profits on Re-inventing Strategy to cope with Emerging Complexities. His clients include Fortune 1000 corporations, UN Organisations and Governments of Switzerland, Turkey, Brazil, Norway, Uganda, Austria and Canada.
Lord Nigel Crisp is an independent crossbench member of the UK House of Lords where he co-chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global Health. He works and writes extensively on health and co-chairs Nursing Now, the global campaign on nursing.
He was previously Chief Executive of the English NHS – the largest health organisation in the world with 1.3 million employees – where he led major reforms between 2000 and 2006. He was at the same time the Permanent Secretary of the UK Department of Health. He has written several books including “Turning the World Upside Down – the search for global health in the 21st century, a well-received account of what rich countries can learn from poorer ones about health. His latest book, “Health is made at Home, Hospitals are for Repairs” was published by Salus in June 2020.
Professor David Drewry is Non-Executive Director for the Natural Sciences at the UK Commission for UNESCO and Honorary Fellow at Emmanuel College, Cambridge University.
Dame Wendy Hall, DBE, FRS, FREng is Regius Professor of Computer Science, Associate Vice President (International Engagement), and an Executive Director of the Web Science Institute at the University of Southampton.
With Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Sir Nigel Shadbolt she co-founded the Web Science Research Initiative in 2006 and is the Managing Director of the Web Science Trust, which has a global mission to support the development of research, education and thought leadership in Web Science.
She became a Dame Commander of the British Empire in the 2009 UK New Year’s Honours list and is a Fellow of the Royal Society.
She has previously been President of the ACM, President of BCS, Senior Vice President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, a member of the UK Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology, was a founding member of the European Research Council and Chair of the European Commission’s ISTAG, was a member of the Global Commission on Internet Governance, and was a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Futures Council on the Digital Economy.
Dame Wendy was co-Chair of the UK government’s Artificial Intelligence Review, which was published in October 2017, is the UK government’s first Skills Champion for AI and is a member of the newly formed AI Council.
In May 2020, she was appointed Chair of the Ada Lovelace Institute.
Jane Kingsley, Co-Founder and Director is a freelance writer and photographer, with a special interest in visual culture.
Philippe Legrain is a critically acclaimed thinker and communicator with high-level policy experience. Previously economic adviser and head of the team providing strategic policy advice to European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and special adviser to the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation, he is a senior visiting fellow at the London School of Economics’ European Institute and the founder of Open Political Economy Network (OPEN), an international think-tank. A columnist for Project Syndicate and other international media outlets, he is the author of best-selling books on globalisation (Open World), migration (Immigrants), the financial crisis (Aftershock) and Europe (European Spring). Philippe is also a consultant and keynote speaker in demand around the world.
George Magnus is an independent economist and commentator, and Research Associate at the China Centre, Oxford University, and at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London.
From 1995-2016, he was the Chief Economist, and then Senior Economic Adviser at UBS Investment Bank, and served for a few years as the Chair of the Investment Committee of the UK pension and life assurance fund.
He had previously worked as the Chief Economist at SG Warburg (1987-1995), and before that in a senior capacity before ‘Big Bang’ at Laurie Milbank/Chase Securities, and before that, Bank of America in London and San Francisco.
George writes and is cited regularly in media outlets such as the Financial Times, Times, Daily Telegraph, Bloomberg, South China Morning Post, Prospect Magazine, theArticle.com, and CapX and is a contributor to UK and international TV and radio programmes. His written work and a blog can be found on his website at www.georgemagnus.com
His current book, ‘Red Flags: why Xi’s China is in Jeopardy’ was published in 2018 by Yale University Press, and then in paperback in August 2019 with newly commissioned material. It examines China’s contemporary economic and commercial challenges and aspirations to modernity in the light of the governance system of President Xi. His earlier books addressed demographics in ‘The Age of Aging’ (2008), and emerging markets in ‘Uprising: will emerging markets shape or shake the world economy?’ (2011).
Chandran Nair is one of the most prominent voices of Asia and founder of The Global Institute for Tomorrow (GIFT). He is the author of the best-seller ‘Consumptionomics: Asia’s Role in Reshaping Capitalism and Saving the Planet’. His photo book project ‘The Other Hundred’ aims to provide a counterpoint to the mainstream media consensus about some of today’s most important issues. ‘The Sustainable State’, his most recent book, was published in October 2018. Chandran frequently speaks at major global gatherings such as the World Economic Forum in Davos and APEC where his thought leadership is sought for its fresh insights and intellectual honesty.
Kieron O’Hara was an academic for 30 years in Artificial Intelligence at the Universities of Nottingham and Southampton, specialising in sociotechnical research into privacy and trust on the World Wide Web. With a passion for communicating beyond academic silos, he is the author of over a dozen books on computing, technology and political philosophy. He is one of the leads in the UKAN network of anonymisation professionals, and co-creator of the influential Anonymisation Decision-Making Framework. His latest book is ‘The Theory and Practice of Social Machines’ (with Sir Nigel Shadbolt, David De Roure and Dame Wendy Hall), while ‘Four Internets: Data, Geopolitics and the Governance of Cyberspace’ (with Dame Wendy Hall) will be published by Oxford University Press in Summer 2021.
Paul Ormerod is the author of four best-selling books on economics, ‘Death of Economics’, ‘Butterfly Economics’, ‘Why Most Things Fail’ and ‘Positive Linking’. He is a Visiting Professor at University College London (UCL) where he supervises graduate students in machine learning. He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy of Social Sciences in 2006, and has been awarded a DSc honoris causa by the University of Durham, UK, ‘for the distinction of your contribution to economics’.
Sir Adam Thomson was a British Diplomat for 38 years, including serving as an Ambassador to the United Nations, Pakistan and NATO. Among other roles, he was the Cabinet Office’s Soviet analyst 1989-91, wrote UK nuclear policy as head of the FCO’s Security Policy Department, ran the political team at the British High Commission in New Delhi and directed UK foreign policy on South Asia and Afghanistan. Since 2016 he has been the Director of the European Leadership Network, growing the organisation in pursuit of innovative outcomes for the reduction of nuclear and other high impact security risks.
Greek Oracles, or certain combinations of Greek Oracles, have a sophistication that surpasses modern thinking….
In Greek mythology, Oracles existed before Apollo’s father, Zeus, controlled the universe.
Themis represented stability, permanent order, the cycles of nature. A predictable future that left humans powerless. In contrast, Metis made pronouncements about the future veiled in uncertainty. She represented the future as full of potential good and evil. Nothing is fixed.
Zeus married them both.
As Wood puts it ‘the Greeks, like any members of any culture inhabiting a world of stories, would understand the logic of their myths without having to behave like logicians….’. For the gods ‘the world is both stable and unstable, unchanging and erratic; for humans, it is fixed and not fixed, fated and free’.
Little has changed. Financial analysts talk of ‘futures’, capturing the idea of possible rather than fixed future worlds. ‘Hedging’ conveys the idea of multiple options in an open, uncertain future. The gold standard in strategy development is the resilience that comes with strategies that will work in any future scenario.
In all these variations, we are in the worlds of storytelling, not prediction. Or rather that forecasts, predictions, scenarios, hedging strategies and policies are anchored not in the present, but in how stories that lead to an endgame that may or may not play out.
What is new is that with the natural and man-made worlds in turmoil, Themis’ perspective has lost ground. Even the most basic assumptions about future worlds are ruthlessly questioned. Radical uncertainty stalks decision-makers.
Yet modern oracles have evolved. In the 1980s, scenarios took centre stage. Shell demonstrated that linking exploratory storytelling to strategy could work. More recently, complexity modelling. Then prediction markets and more recently predictive analytics, with the promise that big data and AI can create more accurate probabilistic models, at least for short-term horizons.
The idea that machine intelligence can capture the vast complexity of the world and in particular predict the vagaries of human behaviour and interaction suggests that we continue to hope Themis will make a comeback. That we can understand fear and desire. That we can uncover the underlying narratives that shape everything we do.
Yet as James Wood said, the Greek oracles ‘have a sophistication that surpasses modern thinking’. On long-term horizons, scenarios rule. As do Themis and Metis.