A new methodology for anticipating STEEP surprises

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In technological forecasting and futures research on social change, the term wild card (a.k.a. disruptor or STEEP surprise), traditionally refers to a plausible future event that is estimated to have low probability but high impact should it occur. This article introduces:. 1.A Type II Wild Card, defined as having high probability and high impact as seen by experts if present trends continue, but low credibility for non-expert stakeholders of importance.2.A four-level typology of wild cards, leading to a systematic methodology for monitoring the emerging awareness and credibility of high probability disruptors and for assessment of stakeholder-specific views about them. An informal pilot test of the methodology both indicated that the approach has practical value, and highlighted the importance of highly plausible tipping points which could rapidly lead to massive disruption, either toward collapse or reformation in the complex adaptive systems (CAS) making up human civilization. For reasons of historical continuity, wild card-related nomenclature is used throughout the majority of this article although the term STEEP Surprise is advocated for further work. (STEEP being a frequently used acronym denoting five conceptual sectors of importance.). Suggestions for further work include: •Research on how to diminish the discounting of Type II phenomena by institutional leaders•Monitoring of transitions in the perceived credibility of critical Type II STEEP Surprises by thought leaders•A Snowball Survey of wisdom leaders having multidisciplinary expertise from all walks of life to identify specific Type II possibilities (especially positive ones), they see as having greatest importance•A Cooperative Clearinghouse on STEEP Surprises for sharing of intelligence on highly probable/highly disruptive events, together with plausible impacts and proactive policies. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.




Markley, O. (2011, July). A new methodology for anticipating STEEP surprises. Technological Forecasting and Social Change. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.techfore.2011.01.008

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