A big-picture scenario

Here’s a classic scenario process, presented by Jamais Cascio.  Very useful example of the form.

Start with two drivers:

Right now, the overriding challenge facing us is the global environment, especially the climate. We’re seeing climate disruption-linked events happening faster and harder than was expected, even while the world’s moving backwards in terms of carbon controls (e.g., Canada filed the paperwork to withdraw from Kyoto in order to be able to exploit the tar sands, Germany’s carbon emissions are increasingly rapidly as they replace nuclear plants with coal, China is being China, etc.). The only place that’s seeing any real improvement is (believe it or not) the United States, and that’s because fracking is allowing us to swap natural gas in for coal. 

There’s also the state of the global economy. A mild improvement in the US as well as fear fatigue has allowed us to think that the worst is over, that everything will be okay in Europe, etc. That’s not necessarily so, and it wouldn’t really take much to tip us back into the “it’s all about to fall apart” anxiety of a year or so ago.

Next, make a continuum out of the two – nice twist:

[W]e could even combine them into a single possibility spectrum (what the good folks at GBN call an “axis of uncertainty”): at one end, climate & economic disruption happen more slowly than feared, while at the other end, climate & economic disruption happen even faster than feared.

Then balance this spectrum against another.

Let’s make a countervailing spectrum about response: at one end, we see the state of the world and finally decide to act, decisively and wisely; at the other end, we continue to ignore the big picture and focus on short-term goals.

Play the two off of each other, generating a 2×2 matrix:

We can align these two axes against each other, one horizontal/one vertical, giving us a classic consultant four-box diagram:

1. Things happen more slowly + We decide to act [this is the wildly optimistic scenario]

2. Things happen more slowly + We continue to ignore the big picture [this is probably a “status quo” scenario, so a bit pessimistic]

3. Things happen more quickly + We decide to act [I’d call this the plausibly optimistic scenario]

4. Things happen more quickly + We continue to ignore the big picture [and this is the especially pessimistic scenario]

Then on to implications:

One of these two dynamics is out of our direct control — we can’t
really influence whether or not things get worse faster than we’d like
or slower than we’d fear — so from a planning/strategy perspective,
we’d need to focus on the other. That’s easy, no?

The rest of the discussion is good so far, too.

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