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Are your Strategic Foresight Scenarios Valid?

Scenario building, also known as scenario analysis, is a crucial methodology to anticipate and prepare for the future. This is a method used from risk management to strategic foresight through early warning systems. More broadly, it is a key tool for all anticipation that needs to be actionable. The higher the uncertainty, the more important …

How to Analyse Future Security Threats (4): Scenarios and War

This article focuses on scenarios for war. It explains first why scenarios need to be mutually exclusive. Then it provides logical templates for building scenarios dealing with war. Finally it offers an updated bibliography of scenarios for Syria over time. Towards an Operational Methodology to Analyse Future Security Threats and Political Risk (1) Methodology to …

Scenarios: Improving the Impact of Foresight thanks to Biases

Foreseeing the future, whatever the name given to the endeavour, includes two major tasks.

The first one is, of course, the analysis, the process according to which the foresight, forecast, warning, or, more broadly, anticipation is obtained.

The second one is less obvious, or rather so evident that it may be overlooked. It is, however, no less vital than analysis. We need to deliver the output of the analytical process to those who need the foresight, the decision-makers or policy-makers. Ideally, the recipients must understand that output, because they will act on it. They need to integrate the new knowledge received in the decisions they will take.*

A huge challenge runs across these tasks: biases.

We must overcome the various natural and constructed biases – systematic mental errors – that limit human understanding. This article will present first the classical way we deal with biases: we consider them – quite rightly – as “enemies” and we devote much effort to mitigate them. Then, considering the specificity of the delivery stage, this article suggests that another strategy is necessary. We need to turn our usual strategy on its head and befriend biases. In that case, scenarios become a tool of choice for an enhanced delivery of our foresight to decision-makers […]

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Evaluating Likelihoods for Libya – Scenario 2 Intervention

Having organized the scenarios and detailed the general methodology for Scenario 2 in the last article, we shall now discuss the indicators for intervention and determine the likelihood of intervention occurring for the General National Congress (GNC), Council of Representatives (COR), and Government of National Accord (GNA), as well as see how the general case envisioned previously needs to be amended to reflect the reality on the ground as interventions have started. The initial narratives for the intervention scenarios can be found here (scenarios 2(1) to 2(9)). Note: we shall use the acronym COR for the Council of Representatives (nationalists), GNC for the General National Congress (Islamists), and GNA for the UN-backed Government of National Accord (unity government). Scenarios trees for …

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Evaluating Likelihoods for Libya – Scenario 2 Methodology

In this article and the next, we shall evaluate the likelihood of the primary scenarios for foreign military intervention, which we started to detail in “Scenarios for the Future of Libya – Scenario 2: The Joint Arab Force Takes a Side (1).” We shall focus on preliminary methodological work allowing for better describing the intervention cases for likelihood estimates. In the last article we discussed the likelihood of Scenario 1, where the Libyan actors negotiate a peace settlement—a scenario for which the probability we assessed was less than 20%, or highly unlikely. As detailed previously, we shall use the methodology developed by The Red (Team) Analysis Society, building upon Heuer (“Assessing Probability of a Scenario”, in Psychology of Intelligence Analysis, …

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Evaluating Likelihoods for Libya’s Future – Scenario 1

Having detailed the various potential scenarios for Libya’s future over the next three to five years, we shall now evaluate the likelihood of the scenarios thanks notably to their indicators. We shall use the methodology developed by The Red (Team) Analysis Society, building upon Heuer (“Assessing Probability of a Scenario”, in Psychology of Intelligence Analysis, …

Scenarios for the Future of Libya within the Next Three to Five Years

Now that we have identified and understood the actors in Libya’s civil war (see State of Play), we may outline the various scenarios regarding Libya’s future within the next three to five years. A civil war with two rival governments, armed coalitions, jihadists, and various tribes creates a complex climate, and we have constructed initially …

Evaluating Scenarios and Indicators for the Syrian War

Every year, The Economist, in its “The World in…” series, assesses it successes and failures regarding its past yearly forecasts (e.g. for 2012). This is an exemplary behaviour that should be adopted by all practitioners: if we are to deliver good and actionable strategic foresight and warning, and to improve our process, methodology and thus our final products, then we should always evaluate our work. Having now completed our last series of updates on the state of play for the Syrian war, we can now start assessing how our own scenarios and indicators fared so far, if they need to be updated and the potential methodological improvements that we should endeavour. Evaluating the scenarios As the Geneva conference took place (see previous …

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How to Analyze Future Security Threats (5): Scenarios and Crises

Related Towards an Operational Methodology to Analyze Future Security Threats and Political Risk (1) Methodology to Analyze Future Security Threats (2): a Game of Chess How to Analyze Future Security Threats (3): Scenarios as an Organic Living System How to Analyze Future Security Threats (4): Scenarios and War How to Analyze Future Security Threats (5): Scenarios and Crises This article is the fifth of a series looking for a methodology that would fulfill the challenging criteria demanded by our time, notably in terms of speed and resources. The previous article focused on how to build scenarios for war. This one will look at scenarios for situations qualified as non-violent crises, taking mainly as example the crisis between China and Japan in the …

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How to Analyze Future Security Threats (3): Scenarios as an Organic Living System

This article is the third of a series looking for a methodology that would fulfill the challenging criteria demanded by our time. We shall now focus on scenarios, which are a way to simulate how the actors we defined and described during the previous step interact, not only among themselves but also with their environment, up until the end of the chosen timeframe. Using the precedent post’s game of chess analogy, with scenarios we imagine the various ways the game may “end”. Towards an Operational Methodology to Analyse Future Security Threats and Political Risk (1)Methodology to Analyse Future Security Threats (2): a Game of ChessHow to Analyse Future Security Threats (3): Scenarios as an Organic Living SystemHow to Analyse Future Security Threats (4): Scenarios …

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