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Scenario logic: the structural underpinnings.

Scenario logic: the structural underpinnings.

This text started as a record of a meeting. It has since been requested several hundred times, and so we have agred to post it for public use. It consists of a list of the central factors that have to be taken into account when thinking about the way the world may change to 2035. This is, as might be expected, some way from the four factors that were listed when this project started: that is, energy, China's emergence, development processes and the mechanisms of choice in the rich countries.

There are some conspicuous absences from this list. The environment is mentioned in passing. Security and terrorism are discussed with les emphasis than soem feel that they deserve. Energy does not appear, except as a subheading about resource constraints. These are, however, very much items in the headlines, and plainly of some importance.

There are two reasons for their being down-played. First, there is the issue of time frames. Global environmental issues may need immediate action, but their impact - in the sense of shaping world events - is, in our view, unlikely to occur in the period under discussion. Second, these factors are either consequences of structural issues which are flagged for debate - rejectionism, for example, as the parent of the use of terror as a political tool - or they are examples of important things that we shall have to handle in any scenario. For example, urban pollution is a problem that developing country cities will have to solve if they are to be able to function: the issue separates the future from the present, but it does not separate one scenario from another. It is consequential, not causative.


Structural issues

Explosion in stock of factors, knowledge, communications.

Intensified competition, exponential pace of commercial change.

Old world demographics, dependency and political choice.

Erosion of defensible competences, increased complexity

Renewal by gaining insight, options, clarity within complexity.

Working (or not) within environmental and resource limits.

Global industrialisation

Sub-national growth poles: not primarily or necessarily national.

Depth and strength of poles depends on quality of national institutions.

Emulation of best practice, standard growth model, international access.

Take-off; China & India as paradigms of regional poles.

Trade, FDI; outsourcing and the 'specified', nature of mobility.

Changing balance of power

Altering balance of interest; weak corresponding institutions.

New realities for nationalism; layers & blurred boundaries.

New international middle class, 3-4bn accept consumerism.

Powerless formal systems; an evolving club of the powerful.

Terror and other distractions: winning & wounding hearts and minds.

Consequences of change

The state: more tools, more demands & constraints, less sovereignty.

Expectations of the state: leader, nurse, workhorse, focus for identity.

Society: adaptability or rejection of (facets of) change.

Society: identity around the collective or 'free' of social capital.

Values: un-boxing, comfort zone clarity, discomfort with novelty.

Public narratives and group identity: self-image shapes events.

New commercial success factors

Managing, creating distributed insight, knowledge and initiative.

The "knowledge economy": TFP through insight, collaboration.

Goals: clarity, collaborative connectivity; continuous renewal.

Machinery of renewal: technology, skills, connectivity.

The role of factors such as capital by corporate development stage.

Rich world imperatives

Coping with complexity: the new infrastructure, stakeholders.

Paying for and staffing the needs of dependency.

Public institutions: self-narrative, fitness, perceptions.

Maintaining competitiveness whilst using global infrastructure.

What to do about defaulters and security threats?

Can development be forced?

The requirements on leadership during the coming transition.


Dimensions: innate nature of state tasks; v. does collaboration pay?

Players: 10-12 national clusters and non-national interest groups.

Adaptive agents: commerce, other agile 'clear' interests, elites.

Machinery: chiefly narrative driven within the above dimensions.

Outcome A: a group accelerating to 'best practice', angry laggards.

Outcome B: unsolved problems, negative narratives, separated camps.


The scenarios are available as a 90 minute presentation, which we are happy to offer world wide for a standard fee. Please contact us here if this fits the needs of your organisation.

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