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Episode Info: Eric Best Eric Best helps business leaders look into the future. As a scenario-thinking consultant, he helps you discover insights that let you formulate an actionable strategy in the face of uncertainty. Scenario thinking gives you tools to explore the differences between your currently planned future and the one that may actually unfold. Eric and I talked about: his background in journalism, strategy consulting, and scenario planning how a couple of inaccuracies in my introduction highlight the power of storytelling how pondering multiple plausible futures reminds us that there are also multiple plausible histories how exploring a number of possible scenarios can prepare your mind for different possible futures the purpose of scenario thinking: to prepare your mind in ways you might not have been prepared for if you hadn't done it his process for conducting a scenario-thinking exercise: identifying the relevant uncertainties in your milieu deciding who will be in the room, who will make up your organization's "distributed brain" to evaluate the scenarios identifying four equally plausible future worlds and crafting a narrative around them diving into the narrative in each of the four worlds and gleaning insight how a 2x2 matrix with axes of your two most important uncertainties can create four possible scenarios to explore - e.g. globalization on one axis and tech development on another in his 1995 analysis of trade and economic trends for Morgan Stanley how four scenarios are usually adequate, but also how discovering a fifth scenario is not an uncommon result the "craft and art" of managing and keeping engaged big groups of people in collaborative settings: preparing by interviewing all of the participants in advance constraining the scope of the current strategic exploration as you begin assembling in four groups to address each of the scenarios asking, "what do you think is a question that would be worth your answering?" - helps discover actual beliefs about what they should be doing discerning the most important uncertainties within each quadrant following this process - it has never failed him the origins of scenario planning at Royal Dutch Shell in the 70s the importance of giving the scenario-thinking process time, of giving participants a chance to literally sleep on it, which leads to the insight that 2 days is the optimal amount of time for a scenario session the importance of assembling in person - "I believe that people need to be physically together to really communicate most fully" the importance of being able to literally embody a feeling of truth, to feel an intellectual decision in your gut the top-level picture of what's going on with his approach: influencing people's intuition, doing it in a very open, creative, abstract space which gets very concrete as the intuition gels the importance of listening - because "the most important idea can come from anybody anytime"...
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