Chapter 8

Turning Pixels into a Clearer Picture

Applying Scenario Thinking to Make a Better Future Possible

Scenario planning is … aimed at … foresight in contexts of accelerated change, greater complexity and genuine uncertainty.

—Pierre Wack, pioneer of scenario thinking and late Head of Group Planning, Royal Dutch Shell

Don’t count out the West—the civilization that brought you Rembrandt and the non-stick frying pan.

—Josef Joffe, Editor and Publisher of Die Zeit, Hamburg, and Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University

There is only one past and one present, but there are multiple possible futures. And there is an art (and science) to learning how to think about, enable, and act on the future we envision.

SOURCE: Age fotostock/SuperStock.

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Meet me at the General Motors Futurama around lunchtime.” That’s what I told my parents when we went to the 1964–65 New York World’s Fair, the last of the great world expos that tried to showcase dreams of progress. I admit it was exciting: From the Bell System’s pavilion with its picture phone (which anticipated Skype by about 50 years) to more mundane innovations, such as the electric toothbrush, the credit card, and formica laminated plastic, the sense of promise was infectious. General admission was two dollars for adults and one dollar for kids. Walt Disney’s magic was behind many of the attractions at the World’s Fair, and some ...

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