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Skip to 0 minutes and 13 seconds 2012 we have our 40th anniversary of scenarios in Shell. And it was a man, Pierre Wack, who put this on the map. And that was a time when a lot of the Western oil companies were just planning on the basis of more production from the Middle East and business as usual carrying on. However, Pierre Wack was a very bright man and what he pointed to was about how, what he called the rapids, the volatility in the world would rise as the Middle Eastern countries decided to nationalize those assets. We were beginning to sketch up possibilities of the kind of development that led to OPEC, which completely changed the energy industry at the time in the 70s.

Skip to 0 minutes and 55 seconds In the 80s, we were looking forward and beginning to see the kinds of political developments that culminated in the fall of the Soviet Union in the Eastern Bloc. A lot of people had discounted that Russia might emerge and move into the world stage. That was the old price collapses of the 1980s. A lot of the conditions there, with the softening of demand but the rising supply, were in place for an oil price collapse that a lot of people weren’t ready for and didn’t see. But the scenarios team had. In the 90s, there were the forces of globalization, market liberalization, and information technology, that were transforming the whole of society. And also, we could see environmental pressures building up.

Skip to 1 minute and 42 seconds One of the scenarios was about a real breakthrough, and the real acceleration of China, in the way that its development could be transformational. And I think we were ahead of the curve there, in charting the way that might have a really significant impact on the energy system. We had a number of other milestones, like bringing sustainable development on the map, bringing the importance of gas as part of that on that map, we have explored many other things like disruptive technologies. What if electric mobility would really take off and in what form?

Skip to 2 minutes and 14 seconds When you look from the 2000s, you begin to see also, the impact of the demand surge in resources as prosperity and population boom, and also the constraints on supply that leads to a new tightness, and are one of the features in, what we now refer to as the era of volatile transitions, over the next decades. In the sort of short or medium term, one of the critical questions in the West is how we’re going to emerge from the financial crisis. I think over the very long term, there’s the question as to how we transition to what we hope would be a more sustainable world.

Skip to 2 minutes and 52 seconds But one of the big challenges, I think, for humanity for the century is the question is whether the people of Africa, people of developing countries all around the world, are going to be able to enjoy the quality of lifestyles that many of us in the West have become used to. Being a global company ourselves, we really like to understand how that may evolve, and how we can have a meaningful part in a process.

Shell - celebrating 40 years of scenarios

In 2012, Shell celebrated 40 years of using scenarios. Take a look at the video and keep the following important questions in mind:

  • Why do you think that Shell decided to use scenarios?
  • What do you think was the ultimate goal for using scenarios?
  • Who would get the most value from these scenarios?

These questions are important to think about as they provide more insight to the importance of scenarios and using them in everyday life.

Post your answers to the questions in the comments section, we would love to hear what you think about Shell’s idea of using scenarios.

(Please note - this video has been taken from YouTube and does not belong to USB-ed)

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This video is from the free online course:

Futurism and Business: Dealing with Complexity

University of Stellenbosch Business School Executive Development