What if? – Woody Wade on Scenario Planning

Woody Wade on Scenario Planning

What if?

On the same day last week, I read two different online articles that each highlighted a future scenario I found thought-provoking. (And not necessarily in a positive way).

The first was an article about the future of Hollywood.  No less an authority than Steven Spielberg himself foresees the possible day coming when three or four mega-budget movies all flop in the same year, with financial consequences so dire that these hugely expensive failures bring down the studios behind them.

If that happens, he thinks, the Hollywood that will emerge in its place will be much more risk-averse than today’s movie business, and is more likely to resemble the theatre than the movie industry as we know it now, with less output every year, a handful of movies commanding sky-high ticket prices rivaling Broadway or West End hits, and like them, enjoying runs in the cinemas that last a year or longer (“Mousetrap” anyone?). Meanwhile, less spectacular films will be unable to justify more than cheap prices… and many may be released straight to TV rather than cinemas, anyway.

What would be the upshot of all this for us consumers?  For starters, less choice in the cinema, of course: only blockbusters allowed. That undoubtedly means as well that cinematic releases will have to have mass market appeal. There will be little chance of seeing low-budget, esoteric “art” films in the cinema any more.  Shame, that.  Looks like it might be “Goodbye, Babette’s Feast; hello, Iron Man” – forever.

And if tickets cost thirty quid apiece, taking the whole family to see “Finding Nemo Again IV” may become such an expensive proposition that this kind of evening out will become a rare treat indeed.

Does any of this portend a big enough change to move the cultural needle in any important way?  Would societal attitudes toward movies – or entertainment – change?  Who would benefit?  Who would lose out?  This may not be earth-shattering for anyone reading this, but it is interesting food for thought.

The other item I read was more sobering – and it was just a single sentence.  A blogger who had just attended a conference focusing on China’s economy summed up the content of the entire event in one pithy (and rather frightening) line:

“Our entire future depends on China’s ability to solve its energy problems.”

How does this observation strike you?  Does it sound like a reasonable assessment?  If so, did it ever occur to you before now that our livelihoods in the West could be riding on this issue?  What scenarios can you envisage – for your country, your industry, or for your own company – if China doesn’t manage to succeed?  What impact would we feel, and how soon might we begin to feel it?

Scenario thinking is about seeing possible connections between developments that may not seem related at first glance, but may in fact be inevitably and inextricably interdependent.  And then asking yourself: “What if…?”

I’m interested in your thoughts – wade@wadeandco.com


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