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Construction Futures

Shell Oil, has for the last few decades, brought the best and brightest thinkers and futurists together to create scenarios for what the emerging futures might be for the next 50 years around the globe, what the implications might be for the energy business during that period and what the underlying assumptions might be for the countries where they operate.

The scenario process usually takes two years and the team interviews business and government leaders, thinkers, futurists and reviews the most current literature from the academic world.  As the futurist and author Joe Jaworski told me, the scenarios for the possible futures emerge from the dialog and the conversation.

Perhaps it is like the multiple colored tracks we see on the weather report when a hurricane like Irene is approaching.  There is no question that we are going to see a hurricane, we even give it a name.  The question is what will its path be when it develops?  And usually there are a number of thoughts about possible path, strength and potential damage as it hits land.

The Shell scenario planning is similar.  In fact, I sometimes think that the planners on the team are like to hurricane trackers.  They fly through the storm and take readings on the pressures and the signs and signals that are “emerging” as a movement takes place and a future develops.

Out of the multiple conversations two or three themes usually emerge.  Those themes are turned into scenarios for the next 25 years that the team documents, publishes and then takes around the world for discussions with world leaders as a way to carry on the dialog.

There is lots of discussion going on in the construction industry about the possible scenarios, not just for the next 25 years, but more focused on the next 5 years.  While you are thinking about the possible outcomes of your musings over the holiday, give some thought to the future of your business for the next 25 years as well.  Remember that 25 years ago was 1976 and we were emerging from a recession and we were celebrating the 200th birthday of the USA.

You can see the latest Shell scenarios titled “Signals and Signposts” on their website.


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