Announcing a new service: Issue Decomposition Workshops

By Adam Siegel on August 22, 2023

We have written a few different times on this blog and other places about "Issue decomposition" where we ask a big, usually open-ended question like "What will be the impacts of climate change on U.S. coastal cities?" and "decompose" it to understand the drivers and signals that will influence the possible outcomes, e.g. sea level rise, Government funding of mitigating infrastructure, insurance company coverages, etc. We think these decompositions give organizations an entirely new way of methodically understanding how the future will impact their most important decisions and policies.

Going through this exercise has become a critical aspect of how we work with our clients, from understanding the future of Iranian nuclear capabilities on INFER, to what will drive the markets in a particular sector with our investment banking clients. The value derived from engaging in this exercise has been significant. Issue decomposition: 

  • Brings clarity on how to think about the future around a particular issue impactful to your organization;
  • Creates a shared world view, surfacing underlying assumptions that may be different across stakeholders;
  • Brings a collaborative approach to understanding the future vs. relying upon individual analysts;
  • Enables an organization to easily incorporate more diverse views from across the organization and/or externally;
  • Increases the rigor of your existing analytic processes;
  • Is an agile process that results in a framework for how to think about ongoing events which can be adapted to changing circumstances.

Because of how impactful we’ve seen these be, we're launching a new Cultivate service: Issue Decomposition workshops. Here's a mini FAQ about them:

Who are Issue Decomposition workshops good for?

Lots of types of organizations! But to get started, we're currently focusing on working with organizations who have existing research groups and whose decisions and policies, or client's decisions and policies, are fundamentally impacted by global geopolitics. This could be national security related government agencies, think tanks, or research groups in wealth management funds, for example.

What happens at a workshop?

A workshop is composed of four parts, which in total, typically take about 2-3 weeks to complete:

  1. Responding to a brief survey about the issue you’d like to better understand
  2. A live workshop with your team and ours where we collaborate on identifying the key drivers influencing your issue and specific signals that would indicate the outcome of those drivers
  3. Asynchronous research by our team to complete the decomposition, and a potential distribution to a broader group of experts for review and comment
  4. Final decomposition map and accompanying narrative delivered by our team


What kind of resources do you need to provide to successfully complete a workshop?

If you have analysts / experts in the issue you’re wishing to discuss in the workshop, it would be helpful for them to attend. A decision / policymaker is also helpful to get to complete the survey to best articulate the issue you’d like to decompose and how it can impact or influence your decisions.

What do you get after the workshop is over?

  • Live notes from our workshop
  • A “decomposition map” which is a flow diagram illustrating the relationships between the issue, possible scenarios, key drivers, and signals
  • A narrative accompanying the decomposition map providing additional context where needed

How much do workshops cost?

We are launching two services. Depending on the issue we’re working with you on, one option may make more sense than the other. The cost for an engagement begins at $20K and includes either: 

  • A single decomposition workshop lifecycle as described above.
  • An annual decomposition “subscription” where we update the decomposition quarterly based on how related events have transpired.

On a more personal note, this is a new frontier for Cultivate's business model: offering consultative services that are not directly dependent on our forecasting platform. But there is a "product/market fit" we’ve already seen we feel we can build upon that will both be good for our business, and help organizations take a more structured and methodical approach to understanding how the future will impact them.

Please reach out to me directly if you have any clarifying questions or would like to get a quote for a decomposition workshop for your organization.


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