Add Binoculars to Your Brand Survival Kit

12 Dec 2016
Add Binoculars to Your Brand Survival Kit
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Michael Roller

We see your future—all four of them. Here’s how Landscape Scenario Planning reaps rewards for your business.

We’ve launched a new e-book, Future Perfect, that deep-dives into Landscape Scenario Planning. Download it for free right here.

What do Mad Libs have to do with your business? Everything. At a recent workshop on the future of design for Core77, I asked participants—a room of designers and makers from across the map—to fill in some blanks, writing answers for prompts like “current retail trend,” “business buzzword” and “new design technique.” What emerges from this tailored exercise is a snapshot of what might be—one of several potential scenarios, or futures, that could be a business’s eventual reality.

What’s especially pointed about the Madlibbean approach is its mix of knowns and unknowns, control and whim. “The process of…filling in the gaps is, on a meta level, modeling the type of chaordic system with which we all must become more comfortable in the future,” says Natalie Nixon, PhD, and Director of the Strategic Design MBA at Philadelphia University. “The phrases given are the structure…and the empty blanks [represent] opportunity to play and experiment with the future.” This is the essence of scenario planning in the here and now.



Over-the-Counter Strategy Planning
To Nixon’s point, instead of banking on one narrow vision of the future, we insist on glimpsing multiple versions of what might be.

“We’re helping companies be near-sighted and far-sighted at the same time.”

Businesses used to look months or years out to plan innovations. Now, everything’s moving faster, and so must strategy. We’re helping companies be near-sighted and far-sighted at the same time—a balance that’s not easy for most leads, who stretch to be strategic while keeping the lights on. With Scenario Planning, marketers can prep for the future more quickly and efficiently—no six-figure budget necessary.

The design-driven approach drafts four distinct scenarios, or futures—walls on which to throw the spaghetti. We work with the business to develop ideas, then we weigh those potential investments against all four scenarios—blending strategy, insights and trends to determine which ideas are resilient. The more resilient the idea, the more profitable.

Rating Your Game Plan
How do you compute resilience? Lots of questions. Our scenarios uncover possibilities to ponder: What if one of your competitors suddenly became hyper-design-focused? What if it becomes a freelancer-dominant world? What if expectations for “deliverables” changed? Those contexts help determine the viability of an idea—ultimately splitting concepts into “safe bets” and “passion areas” that a company can support at will.

See More Versions of the Future
Our recent discussion on Scenario Planning at Core77 centered on the future state(s) of design—where, among other possibilities, creative tools are democratized, relationships are currency, and designer is king. Zarla Ludin, an expert in human-centric research and strategy, sees the viability of such hypotheses: “As consumers are becoming more aware and thoughtful of design, they want to feel more connected to the designer—not just the object. [A] growing detachment from ‘things’ is driving this need for consumers to build that relationship.” Design is merely one metaphor, though—the exercise of entertaining multiple futures can be applied to any industry, any marketer. Just like the future, anything’s possible.

To read LPK’s full exploration on the four futures of design, download the free e-book, Future Perfect.

Curious how Landscape Scenario Planning might work for your business? Email me at

As a trends director at LPK, Michael Roller’s commitment to creative work is guided by over 10 years of experience in the industry. An avid homebrewer, Mike uses socio-cultural ideas to narrate his beer recipes and label designs, taking a more holistic approach to create relevancy every day. Talk sub-conscious responses to design with him at @rollermt or send him an email at

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