Pierre Wack (1922 - 1997)
Of all those involved in the genesis and birth of scenario thinking, no contribution was more significant than that of pioneering Shell executive Pierre Wack.
One of the key leaders of the development of corporate scenario planning in Shell’s renowned Group Planning department, Wack’s work helped to alert the company’s managing directors to possible reasons for what became the oil price shocks of the 1970s.
Valuing insight as much as foresight, Wack’s approach coupled rigorous analysis and iterative process with a transformative imperative, enabling fresh perceptions of what he called the ‘macrocosmic’ context of companies to penetrate and reshape the managerial mindset’s ‘microcosm’.
A stint as a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School followed Wack’s retirement from Shell in 1982, leading to other work such as his involvement in the development of the ‘High Road’/‘Low Road’ scenarios for South Africa’s post-apartheid future. A spiritual and intellectual man, Wack’s legacy is reflected in the flourishing academic discipline and established corporate strategy process that scenario planning is today.
The Pierre Wack Memorial Library was founded by Pierre’s friend and colleague Napier Collyns and was first located at the Global Business Network offices in The Hague. Incorporating Pierre’s books, papers and handwritten notes, the collection was donated to Green Templeton College in 2005 and is now housed in the Oxford Futures Library at Egrove Park.