Future Think

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In the book Scenario Planning by Woody Wade demonstrated a case study on the newspaper industry that I found to be interesting. 1998 was the year I was working with one of the first yellow pages like content providers on the Internet. A regional Internet service provider (ISP) had a vision that the starting point for users signing onto the Internet would be key in delivering content and generating add revenue. Be the first page the users would see was the rule of thought. Like all great ideas that come before their time – the small regional ISP faded into web with the rest of the era companies. The similarities were uncanny in how Wade described one of the scenario and this dotGone business.

The newspaper business is on the cusp of being a thing of history. According to Wade, “the industry is in peril” (Wade 2012). More than most have been reduced to barely resemble what they did a decade ago and more than 150 have closed since the economic downturn in 2008 (Wade, 2012). Leaders in this industry have struggled with what to do with their shrinking market shares and revenues. Some of the larger publications are trying to remake themselves into something new, trying for find new revenue streams.

The scenario based planning proposed for four different outcomes based on four forces: mass audience v.s. targeted audience and traditional media v.s. disruptive media. This translated into disruptive media for the masses, disruptive media for targeted audiences, traditional media for the masses and traditional media for targeted audiences. The planning process achieved the goal of planning for four possible different futures for the newspaper industry. Stepping forward to the year 2020 the scenarios are fleshed out first with general statements and then more specific details are added. Through this process new revenue models were suggested, multichannel strategies were uncovered and other key issues were uncovered. The mechanics of scenario planning process allowed for creating viable future outcomes and therefore allow for preparing for likely futures in the industry.

Wade, W. (2012). Scenario Planning: A Field Guide to the Future. John Wiley & Sons.

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