The Bruadarach Method

Strategic Forecasting Made Accessible
Energize your organization with processes and skills that build organizational agility, strategic capacity, future-sight, and insightful scenario-based thinking.

By adopting strategic forecasting processes in your business, you will enjoy greater strategic agility, develop a sophisticated view of your industry and its needs, improve team morale, and empower your employees to take a provisional scenario-based stance - responding to events instead of reacting.

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For the last one hundred years or so, the evolution of management and strategic thinking business has, in many ways, vaguely resembled military doctrine. One of the most recent examples is the acronym "VUCA", which is featured at least twice by Harvard Business Review and developed by United States generals two decades before.

However, and most interestingly, thinking in business is moving away from the zero-sum environment of military doctrine and is now being influenced by Peace Studies and Futurology. These disciplines emphasize peacebuilding, collaboration, and post-conflict reconstruction. They view situations as if they are organic entities and use diverse stakeholder input to drive innovation; one example is The Anatomy of Peace, by the Arbinger Institute.

In the context of developing a business strategy, marketing strategy, or even reviving an organizational mission, the tools developed in disciplines like Futurology can be deployed to tremendous effect:

Preparing for multiple possible futures at once

By making some simple additions to standard strategic processes, it is possible to create a small range of possible futures that can be used to drive more effective decision-making. Working in a provisional scenario-based-stance also gives you a great deal of strategic flexibility, strategic depth, and helps you take an informed and insightful position in the marketplace.

Stakeholder-driven research process

The techniques of Professional Futurology are powerful because of their ability to provide a huge amount of information efficiently. The methodologies use traditional and modern research methods to generate data, and often this data comes in the form of narratives: stories or stakeholder profiles that describe events and their implications. Instead of doing research on consumers as consumers, per se, Futurology and Peace Studies examine the evolution of needs and values across time.

Develop new employee skills

Research suggests that with skilled facilitation, even going through a process like Strategic Forecasting can develop new capacities in employees that are not only valuable to their roles in your organization, but can help them plan their personal futures more effectively.

Improve your morale, clarify your vision, energize your team

Thinking about the future is exciting, and also fun. Even though the process leaves a lot on the cutting room floor, giving your teams a chance to dream. Getting feedback from stakeholders within and without your organization gives people a chance to feel heard, and to have a meaningful contribution on high-level things like strategy, brand, and positioning. All of these things are pluralistic and more closely resemble a Peace Studies approach rather than a “war studies” posture.

Step 1: Defining the Project Scope

When we think about “the future”, this is very broad. Therefore, the scope of investigation must be tightly controlled to keep the team’s energy on-track. As is said by game design luminary Mark Rosewater, restrictions breed creativity.

Is this just an awareness and imagination project, or will it be used to inform strategy?

Is this project concerned with futures less than three years away (near), or more (far)?

Who are the primary stakeholders of this future within and outside of our organization?

Step 2: Turn on Your Radar

Once the scope of the project is defined, and who these possible futures are most relevant to, it is time for the team to develop a shared knowledge base full of data points. These could be historical events, statistics, known trends, odd things happening in the market, and even things happening in different industries - these can be organized using tools like PESTLE or STEEP.

Step 3: Sensemaking

Once the team feels they have enough data, it is time to understand what it might mean. The team can ideally gather in one location and use Post-It Notes to cluster different data points together, documenting implications and insights as they emerge. Another thing that will emerge is a set of trends, or longer-term developments in your spheres of concern that drive smaller events.

Step 4: Scenario-Building

The Bruadarach Method uses a very simple tool - the foursquare. By choosing two values conflicts and making a foursquare out of them, it is possible to very quickly and efficiently develop a range of four possible futures that a strategy can be developed in light of. For example, an “AI Content vs. Human Content” and “Patron vs. Corporate Subscriber” set of axes yields the four following possible futures:

  • Corporations dominating creative markets with AI-generated/augmented content
  • Individual creators taking control of creative markets with AI-generated/augmented content
  • Corporations continuing to dominate creative markets with human content (status quo)
  • Individual creators taking control of creative markets with human content

As can be seen, the range of these possible futures allows for much greater strategic depth, the ability to plan for and execute contingency plans in the event of unexpected market shifts, and a superior ability to position your organization meaningfully and insightfully.

Step 5: Future-Sharing

One of the most fun parts about this kind of work is that you get to share your ideas with other people who might be interested or inspired. For example, some of the ideas your team generates could easily be turned into a sophisticated whitepaper for clients and close contacts, or a vision document for your organization’s internal use. By leveraging creative resources within the marketing team, you could develop fictional vignettes or mood boards to help bring the future to life. There are lots of possibilities to make the future interesting, accessible, and inspiring for your stakeholders, and the ingenuity of your creative staff is the only limit (aside from budget!).