strategic surprise

Over the last two decades, strategic surprises have accumulated and accelerated rather than receded, and they continue to do so. Various actors, from governments and international organisations to the corporate world through citizens seem to be constantly and increasingly surprised by events they fail to anticipate, and thus for which they are unprepared. The Arab Spring (e.g. … Continue reading Multiplicating Crises: Strategic Surprises or Strategic Shocks?

The Economist shows the lead in a courageous yet hardly ever done exercise: going back to our own foresight and assess, in the light of the present, what was right and what was wrong. It provides us with an example of how such lessons learned could be endeavoured, underlines questions that should be asked and key challenges for anticipation, and exemplifies how biases can derail foresight.

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Practically applying the idea of “strategic surprise” when anticipating new threats is difficult as soon as one moves away from the general idea, and tries to be more specific about the strategic impact a surprise could have. The surprise part of the concept is relatively easily understood and envisioned. When imagining a threat or danger occurring, we don’t have any problem identifying and explaining the many reasons why this event could happen unexpectedly and find us unprepared. Assessing, estimating and understanding these incriminated causes, then remedying them, is more complex, indeed the raison d’être of strategic foresight and warning and risk management, and the topic of many studies. The strategic dimension, for its part, is more elusive and far less … Continue reading Assessing the “Strategic” in Surprise

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An issue, in terms of warning and by extension SF&W, is “a situation, an objective, an opportunity, a danger, a threat or a risk, which is specific and defined.” (Grabo, 2004) For example, SF&W issues can be interstate and civil wars, fragile states, instability, energy security, oil, economic crisis, new opposition nexus, global water security, epidemics, … Continue reading What is an Issue in terms of Strategic Foresight & Warning or Horizon Scanning?