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Assessing the “Strategic” in Strategic Surprise

Strategic foresight and early warning are grounded in the idea of preventing surprise and more specifically strategic surprise. However, if we move away from the general idea of “strategic surprise” and try to be specific, i.e. if we try to apply the concept to a specific threat or issue we try to anticipate, then the …

COVID-19: Anticipation, Timing and Influence – From Mobility Restriction to Medicine Shortage

Scenarios regarding the future of the COVID-19 epidemic outbreak in China and globally vary wildly (David Cyranoski, “When will the coronavirus outbreak peak?“, Nature, 18 February 2020). The estimates go from the outbreak peaking at the end of February 2020 to months away with millions infected (Ibid.). The WHO Director-General stressed the necessity to remain …

Strategic Foresight Methodology

By strategic foresight methodology, we mean this part of the general strategic foresight and warning methodology that focuses on foresight analysis. In other words, it is the general method without the warning part. It thus consist in: Defining the question Step 1: Exploratory stage Step 2 – The creation of the model for SF&W: mapping …

Quantum, AI, and Geopolitics (3): Mapping The Race for Quantum Computing

The purpose of this article is to define a framework within which the Race to Quantum can be understood, to present an adequate tool to handle the multiple characteristics of this race, namely dynamic mapping – for mathematicians dynamic graphs – and to uncover parts of the dynamic map thus achieved as example of what is happening and what can be done to understand. The mapping presented here progressively includes the EU and the Netherlands, Germany, the U.S., China, then, moving to private actors, IBM and Vision Fund. read more…

Investigating the Rise of Populism (2) – Populism-Labelling and its Dangers

This article focuses on the “rise of populism”, the second explanation given for two of the major recent political and geopolitical surprises – i.e. the Brexit and the election of Donald Trump as U.S. President, and a major concern for many regarding the future evolution of Europe, the EU, and more largely the liberal paradigm in its globalisation guise.

Previously, we presented the current scholarly definition of populism, and suggested that it was less representative of reality than thought at first glance (“A perfect definition?“). Here, we shall focus on a too often forgotten aspect of “populism”, the way the word is actually used to disparagingly brand a protest movement or party and reinsert it within a larger political science framework. We shall explain how this practice of “populism-labelling” is actually fraught with three main dangers, which, furthermore, interact.

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Beyond the End of Globalisation – From the Brexit to U.S. President Trump

The world has entered a period where uncertainty rules and where surprises abound.

Focusing on 2016, the two major surprises usually singled out are the Brexit or the vote leading to the exit of the U.K. from the European Union, then the election of U.S. President Trump against favourite Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Even though a short-term focus could let us believe that the turmoil only or mainly hits “the West”, political and geopolitical surprises and uncertainties have multiplied worldwide, starting at least with the shock of the financial crisis in 2007 and 2008 and responses to it (see end note for some major instances*).

What is thus happening? How are we to tackle the uncertainty? Are these surprises related or discrete independent events that it would be wrong to link or try to understand together?

We shall start here with the 2016 surprises and related ongoing uncertainty, i.e. the Brexit and the U.S. Trump Presidency, and focus more particularly on the contradictions and questions that arise when we compare the two phenomena. We shall seek a framework for and elements of understanding, which can then be used in the development of scenarios for the future.

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Geopolitics, Uncertainties and Business (6) : The Psychological Impact of the Islamic State Terrorist Attacks

This article is the second of a two-parts of a series seeking to identify the impacts of the current and most probably forthcoming terrorist attacks by the Islamic State and other jihadist groups, and focuses on major socio-psychological consequences. It follows a first article, which started outlining a framework for impact assessment out of our current understanding of the economic consequences of terrorism, which notably pointed out the need to use mapping as methodology if the complex and cascading characters of these impacts are to be properly assessed. The larger aim of the series is notably to understand if businesses should or not neglect these aggressions and related geopolitical uncertainties, while finding out ways to foresee these risks so as to best design answers (see Helene Lavoix, “Businesses and Geopolitics: Caught up in the Whirlwinds? (1)”, The Red (Team) Analysis Society, 17 Oct 2016)

To find out which could be the psychological impacts of the ongoing string of terrorist attacks, we

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The Impact of the Islamic State Terrorist Attacks – Geopolitics, Uncertainties and Business (5)

Since the Islamic State declared a Khilafah on 29 June 2014, it carried out, worldwide, 6 attacks or series of attacks in 2014, which killed 2 and wounded 12 people, 23 in 2015, which killed 1020 and wounded more than 2171, 36 in 2016, which killed more than 1455 and wounded more than 3505 and so far 3 in 2017, which killed more than 109 and wounded more than 169 people, assuming all attacks are known and referenced as such (Wikipedia “List of terrorist incidents linked to ISIL“). As a whole, we thus faced 68 attacks, during which more than 2586 people lost their lives and more than 5857 were injured. Prospects for the near future look no less grim as reminded …

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Strategic Thinking in the Russian Arctic: When Threats Become Opportunities (2)

This article is the second part of our series focusing on the current development of the Russian Arctic region, while explaining and demonstrating the importance of using strategic thinking for governments as well as for business actors to understand current dynamical changes and to develop adequate strategies to face related geopolitical uncertainty. In the first part, we …

Lessons from the Conflict in Ukraine – Geopolitics, Uncertainties and Business (4)

This article identifies lessons we can learn from the impact of the conflict in Ukraine on businesses, as presented in the first part, to continue enhancing our understanding of the way businesses and the corporate world could usefully anticipate or foresee geopolitical and political risks and uncertainties.

From the way to identify which crises and geopolitical uncertainties can be – sometimes unexpectedly – of concern to a company (Lesson 1) to the best timing for starting the anticipation  process (Lesson 2), the need to think outside the ideological box (Lesson 3) and multi-dimensionally (Lesson 4) and to understand “national interest” and its evolution (Lesson 5), the impacts of the war in Ukraine bring us a wealth of understanding and points out many necessary if not crucial improvements that may be endeavoured. These will thus be added to the points previously identified in “Lessons from and for the Brexit – Geopolitics, Uncertainties, and Business (2)”, after a general framework was defined in “Businesses and Geopolitics: Caught up in the Whirlwinds?” (1).

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