Shell, scenario planning and social networks

Shell uses an extensive planning process to develop scenarios that question common assumptions about the influence of economic, political and social networks. The attendees at Davos this past January were treated to a preview of the new Shell Global Scenarios to 2025. The new scenarios (.ppt) identify three competing forces (slide 8):

  • state-centric world, based on security, coercion and regulation
  • market-centric world, based on efficiency and market incentives
  • the principle of social cohesion, with aspirations to equity
  • The last force, social cohesion, can be further described as a "civil-society-centric world." One, you would think, that would include participants in the accelerating world of civic journalism, participatory democracy and social networking.

    Why, then, does the slide dealing with influencers (slide 16) stick to the same old tired players in political economy theory: regulators, NGOS, media, political leaders, and trade unions?

    If I squint and expand their code words as flexibly as possible, I think I can see myself (and you) in their analysis.

    I hope their more detailed work on these scenarios reflects the reality of a hyper-connected world - one where national revolutions are coordinated by text-messaging and protest movements are energized by homespun news reports, webcasts and meetups.