The Black Menagerie play helps to identify and categorise the different types of wild cards that could generate disruption in the future.
Wild cards are the unpredictable, unknown, or even unacknowledged issues and events that have an outsized impact on the business environment. This play guides you to identify the types of wild cards your organisation or project might face, helping to uncover blind spots and risks in your future operating environment.
The Black Menagerie identifies three different types of wild cards:
- Black Swans – events that have a low probability of occurring but have a high impact (for example a pandemic)
- Black Elephants – issues or events that have a high impact but are not being addressed in the present (for example climate change)
- Black Jellyfishes – issues or events that through feedback loops could escalate rapidly (like a financial crisis)
Too often, wild cards are treated as the same type of event (usually a Black Swan). However, understanding the differences between wild card events helps you map how change might unfold, and the different ways it could present itself such as an unexpected shock or an unaddressed long-term issue, and how you can act accordingly.
The Black Menagerie is based on the work of John Sweeney and Ziauddin Sardar, ‘The Three Tomorrows of Postnormal Times’.