The Scenario Edition
Scenarios are not predictions. They aim to explore and answer the question ‘what might happen?’ in different ways. They are frameworks within which to navigate: to set a course that has many possible destinations.
In other terms, they are complex multi-layered narratives made up of intertwined threads that co-evolve over time.
The Rome Scenarios, now updated, range from the chaos of ‘Dark Ages’ and the volatility of ‘Best of Times, Worst of Times’ to ‘Walled Gardens’ – a world of enlightened and inclusive nationalism. ‘Renaissance’ describes a multi-lateral vision of a world of mutual understanding that many people might like to create for future generations.
They are rich in ideas, some familiar, others new and yet others that explore how inventions might converge to transform everything from health to global politics on a horizon stretching from 2018 to 2035.
Scenarios are designed to help everyone explore the long-term and to test strategies. The future may bring some surprises, but should bring few outright shocks. Without imaginative foresight and scenarios, strategies amount to flying blind in a world characterised by irreducible complexity, radical uncertainty and the unthinkable.
For investors, corporations, governments and anyone concerned about the future, the questions are: do my strategies work in one scenario, or all? What is our state of readiness if ‘Dark Ages’ begins to emerge? Can we contribute to shaping the outcomes of, say, ‘Renaissance’ – arguably the most positive?
One of the founding principles of The Oracle Partnership is that we take the long view.
Mental time travel and simulation are default mechanisms of the brain. Imagined futures and the narratives that describe them dominate our expectations and decisions, yet short-termism is more than ever a structural weakness at a cultural as well as geo-political, strategic and business level. Reacting to events leaves us vulnerable, does not deliver long-term resilience and is no substitute for acting on foresight.
As Michael Bloomberg recently said, whereas the Chinese are thinking in timeframes of decades, “at the moment America’s timeframe is the next temporary budget resolution.”
We not only advocate imaginative long-term thinking, but also take the view that inventive ideas are paramount.
The scenarios, we hope, are packed full of both.
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