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The Trend Forecaster’s Handbook: Scenario Planning

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26 July 2019

Author: Martin Raymond

Image: The Trend Forecaster’s Handbook

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The second edition of our co-founder, Martin Raymond's book focuses on turning the trends of the future into profitable solutions.

Here’s a scenario about tomorrow: a great trading nation chooses to withdraw from a very successful commercial agreement with 27 of its neighbours in order to negotiate independent treaties with singular countries, many of whom have questionable leaders, and equally questionable views about climate change, immigration and human rights.

To top it all, it allows a dying, vindictive, mainly white, mainly male, predominantly right wing group of marginalised 60somethings to elect a prime minister who is a known philanderer, liar, obfuscator and all-round blonde buffoon. Hey Dude!

Five years ago, minus the ‘hey dude’ bit, I laid out this scenario in a workshop I was running for a number of global CEOs. As with all scenario-planning workshops, part of the process was for them to choose three scenarios and to map them out accordingly – the probable, the plausible and the preferable.
The probable is what could happen, if very little else happens. The plausible is what should happen, when you introduce five to seven variables (economic, cultural, social, environmental) that are mapped and ranked accordingly. And the preferable is what you would like to happen because you throw all of your knowledge and insight behind it to make it so.

There was a fourth scenario that a number of those CEOs I was dealing with found uncomfortable. This was what I called the unpalatable scenario, one that seems grotesque, unbelievable, bizarre and unprecedented. A GUBU option, in other words, but one, for those very reasons, that should be seriously considered.

The Trend Forecaster’s Handbook
'The future, after all, isn’t an accident: it happens because we create it.'

Indeed, much of what was once considered GUBU is now taken for granted. A car that is powered by electricity, or one that drives itself. A billion-dollar hotel brand that doesn’t own property, or a trillion-dollar retailer that doesn’t own stores. Even a virtual chain that allows us to track any transaction in perpetuity, or a sound-based technology that allows us to feel the visible and invisible in mid-air.

And this was the point I was trying to make to the CEOs, that the fourth scenario, the GUBU one, is where disruption truly sits, new markets are formed and future opportunities identified. The rest, which you should also do – for reasons of getting you through your otherwise risk-averse tenure without being rumbled – are invariably about variation, extension and evolution. All are good, but all are merely tinkering with the deck chairs while that iceberg looms.

By identifying the GUBU – even if you dislike it – you are readying your ship for the true challenges and opportunities that lie ahead – the impeachable president, the lying blonde-haired philanderer, but also that unlikely black swan or unicorn product that resets the everyday. To do this, you have to suspend your disbelief, and like the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland – a book I recommend to all CEOs or leaders seeking vision – learn to embrace six impossible things before breakfast, or Brexit, whichever comes first.

You can find more about our GUBU-inspired scenario-planning workshops by emailing Martin or one of our new business or strategy teams here.

Written for the professional forecaster, researcher, innovator and foresight strategist, this expanded and updated version of The Trend Forecaster’s Handbook explains, explores and fully examines the growing battery of technologies, techniques and executional approaches used to identify trends, capture insights, develop forecasts, inform innovation, and define and develop new product streams.

The Trend Forecaster’s Handbook is published by Laurence King.

Signed copies of the book can be purchased below.

The trend forecasters handbook

 

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