Global Business Network

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Global Business Network
Founded 1987

Global Business Network (GBN) was a leading consulting firm that specialized in helping organizations to adapt and grow in an increasingly uncertain and volatile world. Using tools and expertise in scenario planning, experiential learning, together with networks of experts and visionaries (so called "Remarkable People" (RPs)), GBN advised businesses, NGOs, and governments in addressing their most critical challenges, helping them to gain the insight, confidence and capabilities they needed to shape their future. GBN was previously a member of Monitor Group, prior to the acquisition of Monitor by Deloitte.[1][2] GBN was based in San Francisco, and had offices in New York City, London, and Cambridge, Massachusetts.[3]


GBN was founded in Berkeley, California, in 1987 by a group of entrepreneurs including Peter Schwartz, Jay Ogilvy, Stewart Brand, Napier Collyns, and Lawrence Wilkinson.[3] The company grew to include a core group of "practice members", and over a hundred individual network members (or "RPs") from a range of different fields, such as Wired editor Kevin Kelly,[4] social media expert Clay Shirky, anthropologist Mary Catherine Bateson, economist Aidan Eyakuze, musician Brian Eno, biotechnologist Rob Carlson, and China scholar Orville Schell.

For its first 15 years, corporate clients would pay an annual subscription of up to $40,000 to become members of GBN's "Worldview". In return, they received exposure to the network of experts, were invited to workshops and interactive meetings to explore emerging trends and alternative futures, while gaining access to training seminars, a private website and the GBN Book Club, offering a selection of literature about future issues each month.[5][6][7] After its acquisition by Monitor in 2000, GBN soon stopped offering this membership service, concentrating instead on scenario-based consulting and training.

Before GBN, Peter Schwartz had been employed at SRI International as director of the Strategic Environment Center; following that, he took a position as head of scenario planning at Royal Dutch/Shell, from 1982 to 1986,[8] where he continued the pioneering work of Pierre Wack, in the field of scenario planning.

GBN ceased to be an active entity following the acquisition of the Monitor Group by Deloitte in January 2013.[9]

Scenario planning[edit]

Unlike forecasting which extrapolates past and present trends to predict the future, scenario planning is an interactive process for exploring alternative, plausible futures and what those might mean for strategies, policies, and decisions. Scenario planning was first used by the military in World War II and then by Herman Kahn at RAND (“Thinking the Unthinkable”) during the Cold War, before being adapted to inform corporate strategy by Pierre Wack and other business strategists at Royal Dutch/Shell in the 1970s. The key principles of scenario planning include thinking from the outside in about the forces in the contextual environment that are driving change, engaging multiple perspectives to identify and interpret those forces, and adopting a long view.

The GBN Diaspora[edit]

Over the years, a number of people have worked at GBN and then taken their skills in scenario planning, facilitation and strategy into other ventures. Organizations with significant GBN heritage include:

  • Monitor Institute: A social enterprise that surfaces and spreads best practices in public problem solving, led by Katherine Fulton.
  • Monitor 360: A "Narrative Analytics+Strategy Company" that brings clarity to complex, cross-disciplinary strategic challenges, led by Doug Randall
  • Worldview Stanford: A group at Stanford creating interdisciplinary learning experiences about the future to prepare leaders for the strategic challenges ahead, led by Brie Linkenhoker and Nancy Murphy.
  • Independent Scenario Consulting Practices: Long time scenario practitioners: Eric Best, Nicole-Anne Boyer, Jim Butcher, Lynn Carruthers, Matt Ranen, Jonathan Star, Nick Turner, Steve Weber and others have created new firms focused on scenario planning and strategy.


  1. ^ Garreau, Joel (November 1994). "Conspiracy of Heretics". Wired. 
  2. ^ Futurist Peter Schwartz '68 Eyes the New Century. Rensselaer Mag. December 1999.
  3. ^ a b "Where We Started". Archived from the original on January 5, 2010. 
  4. ^ Turner, Fred (2006). From counterculture to cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the rise of digital utopianism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 203. 
  5. ^ "Long Boom or Bust". The New York Times. June 1, 1998. 
  6. ^ GBN Book Club Selections. Archived from the original on 2007-10-10.
  7. ^ GBN Members. Archived from the original on 1999-01-28.
  8. ^ Long Boom or Bust. The New York Times.
  9. ^ "Deloitte completes acquisition of Monitor's global strategy consulting business | Deloitte US | Press release". Deloitte United States. Retrieved 2016-03-10. 

Further reading[edit]