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Royal Dutch Shell Case Study

How the Global Exploration Group used crowdsourced forecasting to inform drilling and lease sale decisions.


Shell’s Global Exploration Group launched Cultivate Forecasts to 200 employees in the Gulf of Mexico region. Based on the success of that pilot, the methodology was rolled out globally to over 800 employees across the entire group and at all levels.

Cultivate Forecasts, a prediction market, is a form of crowdsourcing. The platform anonymously aggregates forecasts from individual participants to a probability of an event happening in the future. Participants can update their forecasts at any time and are judged depending on how they forecast in a given question.

Forecasting questions in the group’s prediction market have focused on several areas:

  • Government lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico and other regions
  • Rig sequence strategy
  • The quality and probability of success of drilling locations
  • Competitive intelligence

The company’s goals for running the prediction market were to improve forecast accuracy from the wisdom of the crowd, provide an anonymous outlet to ensure all perspectives about key decisions were heard, and to increase everyone’s exposure to all projects in the group.

Key Benefits

The following are the key benefits the company has experienced so far by running the prediction market:

  • Insights from the prediction market contributed to a 94% success rate in a recent lease sale;
  • Level of predicted competitiveness for blocks used to influence amount of final bids;
  • Forecasts helped to balance the over-optimistic tendency inherent in reviews; and
  • Unexpected forecast results or commentary from the prediction market bucked the conventional wisdom and encouraged decision makers to consider alternative paths.