Envisioning the Future to Inform the Present

With the re-emergence of scenario planning as a critical tool for business leaders seeking to make sense of the complex drivers of global change and the implications they have for businesses, we at A.T. Kearney have happily been ahead of that curve. It’s nothing new or exotic to us. In fact, we have employed scenario-based planning for over 20 years to help our clients explore how global trends might affect future business conditions. One of the many benefits of scenario planning is that it expands an individual’s and an organization’s field of vision, and helps them powerfully imagine the future.

The following is a set of scenario narratives that we generated recently for an internal partners meeting at A.T. Kearney. As is always the case with scenarios, our intention was not to predict the future. Rather, we were attempting to put forth engaging stories about the future (as our friends at Oxford University like to say) that could serve as a jumping-off point for robust discussion and strategic thinking. Our very bright and experienced Global Business Policy Council Managing Director, Erik Peterson, who joined us after stints at CSIS (the Center for Strategic and International Studies) and Kissinger Associates, created four scenarios titled: Terminus (a pessimistic scenario), Flatline (a base case), Top Gear (an optimistic, but possibly unrealistic scenario), and Control-Alt-Delete (a possibly more pausible optimistic scenario).

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