“Some have assumed that key to successfully dealing with uncertainty is to take a deep dive into the long-term future. Even when the difficulty of prediction is acknowledged, effort is still devoted to imagining alternative possible futures. This is the case of scenario planning, one of the most popular of such approaches. […] There is, in fact, a fundamental flaw in such approaches: it assumes that we can somehow successfully imagine the central aspects of the future. There is ample evidence, however, that this is not true. We do a terrible job imagining the future, sometimes with dreadful consequences, and scenario planning (developed commercially beginning forty years ago at Shell) hasn’t helped us much.” –Silberzahn & Jones

Related: KPUU Framework and Strategies for Antifragility

“How can you craft strategy in nonlinear environment? […] instead of putting effort into better prediction (no matter how modest), in many cases strategists must take the opposite approach and learn to focus their effort purely on a better understanding of the present. [By] mitigating the impact of surprises [and] anticipating the consequences of their own actions.”

“Recent research (known under the name of Effectuation) has shown that entrepreneurs do not try to predict the future. They do not work with forecasts. Rather than predicting the future to control it, they control the future to avoid having to predict it. Here, we have a more optimistic approach than that of Taleb. Entrepreneurs enact their environment by working with stakeholders through a process of co-creation, highlighting the very social nature of the effort. They do that by using a set of heuristics”


“no amount of PowerPoint can overcome the inherent complexity, uncertainty and surprises of the future a decade ahead.”


“Scenario planning is not, or rather should not be, about forecasting the future. Instead, it is a tool for collective learning; what matters is what the scenario team learns in creating it. As an exercise, it is useful; as a strategic map for outsiders, it is relatively useless. Therefore, instead of using it as a map for your organization, ignore its conclusion, ignore the scenarios themselves, and think about the trends, forces and events that the NIC identifies, and then add your own, based on your intuition and expertise.

In short:

  • Don’t fall for the forecasting trap: think about the future, but don’t try to predict it.
  • Treat others’ forecasts as a learning exercise: get your strategy team to engage in a strategic conversation about the future using the report as a starting point.
  • Pay particular attention to what is not said or not written, and why: the NIC’s effort ignore crucial factors.
  • Most importantly, impress upon your strategy team both the unpredictability of the long-term future and the fact that action is frequently the best way to forecast. As Gandhi said in a different context: “Be the change you would find in the world”.

Ultimately, strategy is about a desired future and how to get there. So don’t ask what the future will be, but rather what future you desire, and how you will bring it about.”


Chaordic strategy

The chaordic path is the path that walks between chaos and order. When we don't know where we are going, or what the future needs for us, we can bring a little bit of form to our work by working with clear steps. These steps are intended to create generative structures, structures that allow us to create together, without stifling creativity and the emergence of new ideas and new ways of doing things


  • future_fabulators/non_predictive_strategy.txt
  • Last modified: 2015-02-18 16:00
  • by maja