Backlash scenarios

Vigilant Counselors

Global Guilds must act like VIGILANT COUNSELORS monitoring globally-defined-crisis scenarios, alerting about changes and facilitating integrated counter-measures


BASED ON CONFIDENTIAL insights into what different countries, industries and institutions actually intend to do, a Global Guild must fulfill the role of ‘Vigilant Counselor’. In this capacity it must not only feed member-organizations a continuous forecast – free of commercial, media or political bias – of what is most likely to happen regarding global crises over the next few decades, but it must also help members align their responses accordingly.

More precisely, a Global Guild needs to help the international community gain a shared understanding of the most likely composite scenarios of how backlashes will develop (in other words, the different ways that backlashes may unfold), the reasoning behind each scenario, the indicators that will suggest that one scenario rather than another is coming true (that is, the Leading Indicators of a scenario), and the opportunities to pre-plan coordinated responses to those of the crisis scenarios that – if they occur – may develop extremely rapidly.

It is, even in theory, impossible to set up a forecasting system that can predict and monitor all potential crises. It is also impossible to catch every major crisis in time. But it is perfectly possible to predict many (probably most) of the extreme crises, predict their most likely triggers, and predict the measures that will best indicate an imminent rise in the threat-levels they represent. As a result, although a few crises will always risk appearing to explode out of nowhere, the odds against that occurring can be dramatically improved. What is more, because such threats are globally defined and typically bring widespread threats to multiple organizations, there is very largely only downside for a corporation to attempt such forecasting alone.

Whether the overall analysis of global crises is conducted by a multinational headquartered in the UK, the USA, China, Russia or even Saudi Arabia – the basic trends and the overall conclusions remain the same. The findings are true for all. Corporate responses may, of course, vary considerably. But even then, the logic that determines which industry can most usefully coordinate its members’ chosen strategies will be determined at the global (not individual-business) level.

Although the role of Vigilant Counselor benefits from the confidential access that a Global Guild has as Trusted Observer, it is an importantly-distinct activity. By analogy, it is like the oil-tankers’ shared Sat Nav system alerting the rival captains to projected collisions – at risk of occurring maybe several minutes later – not only with icebergs but also with rival tankers that are in the process of changing course in ways their competitors are unaware of.

Within a Global Guild, the Vigilant Counselor role demands strong forecasting capability combined with the judgment and skill needed to encourage appropriate groups to work with each other so as to coordinate particular plans. The alternative option of all potentially-relevant parties all attempting to align all of their plans on everything is simply not practical. Worse, such an attempt would probably result in such a logjam that some of the most crucial integrations would never even get prioritized. In contrast, one of the less-obvious benefits of the Vigilant-Counselor role is that it promotes selectivity and focus in attempted coordination activities across industries and beyond.