I evoked last week how clever expedients are useful for innovators, and I wanted to share one example this Friday. It's a simple brain twister Shell developed when bright people were roaming their offices.

It can be used as a game or interactive facilitation technique about how a team deals with the future of its business. And it revolves around seven perfectly tuned questions to map out one's perspective on the future of a market.

Shall we play together?

  1. If you could spend some time with someone who knew the future of [ your market ] but only had one question, what would be the critical thing you'd ask?
  2. If things went really well in the next few years, how would you expect [ your market ] to develop, and what would be the main achievement to speak of?
  3. If [ your market ] would unravel, what would be the main cause to worry about?
  4. From your knowledge of the culture, systems, resources, and people involved, which impact the most [ your organization], and how would these have to be changed to achieve the optimistic outcome?
  5. What factors shaped ten years ago [ your market ] as it is today?
  6. What decisions would need to be made rapidly to achieve the desired long-term outcome for [ your market ]?
  7. Finally, what more would you do if you were in power to ensure a successful future for [ your organization]?

At the time, Shell usually ran these interview sessions with a dozen key collaborators around a clearly defined challenge to overcome. The back-and-forth probing on both speculative views, current perspective, and operational bottlenecks were quite robust in delivering actionable insights.  

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