Wikistrat Inc. is a geostrategic analysis and business consultancy founded in Australia in 2009 and headquartered in the United States. It describes itself as the world's first crowdsourced consultancy leveraging a global network of over 2,000 subject-matter experts. [2]

Products

Wikistrat is an online consultancy for strategic analysis and forecasting that claims to be significantly different from other consultancies.

By using a Web 2.0 platform, Wikistrat allows peer-to-peer interactions and offers a real-time "environment of collaboration where analysts can manage the information overload, and exploit the wisdom of the crowd," according to former Chief Analyst Thomas P.M. Barnett. "The platform and methodology... enables the interdisciplinary deconstruction of geopolitical issues and trends in a structured yet flexible manner, to aid strategists in thinking through problems in a systematic fashion.” He has described the Wikistrat platform as " Facebook meets Wikipedia," resembling Facebook with its large community of strategists and Wikipedia through its editable and dynamic encyclopedia known as the "Global Model" (GLOMOD). [3]

The company runs analysis via strategic simulations. Its products include crowdsourced simulations, wargames and planning exercises. Wikistrat's services allow for real-time observation by analysts and clients alike, and promote interaction between the two. Notably, Wikistrat utilizes a completely transparent and fully archived process, distinguishing the consultancy from more traditional "black box" firms.

Wikistrat enables analysts as well as clients to propose scenarios, inject vertical shocks, and/or brainstorm the implications of potential geopolitical risks. The structure is designed to give strategists the ability "to map out the full spectrum of alternatives.”

Analysts

Rather than employing a stable of in-house analysts, Wikistrat maintains a network of hundreds of academics, consultants, journalists, and retired government/military personnel. Contributors are invited to participate in a given project if they have relevant expertise, and each individual is compensated for his or her time. Analysts can accept or refuse invitations on a case-by-case basis.

The company uses gamification to incentivize analyst participation. As CEO Joel Zamel explained in a 2013 article featured in Fast Company, "[Wikistrat's platform] uses a gamification engine we created that incentivizes analysts by ranking them at different levels for the work they do on the platform. They are immediately rewarded through the engine, and we also track granular changes made in real time. This allows us to track analyst activity and encourages them to put time and energy into Wiki analysis." [4]

Among the notable members of Wikstrat's analytic community are Richard Weitz, Daniel Pipes, Parag Khanna, Kenneth R. Timmerman, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, Shaukat Qadir, James Joyner, James C. Bennett, Leon Hadar, Michael Rubin, Mark Galeotti and Anne-Marie Slaughter.

History

The company was founded in 2009 by Joel Zamel and Daniel Green. After studying counter-terrorism, Zamel founded Wikistrat Inc. and became CEO, while Green came aboard as the company's Chief Technology Officer. Dr. Thomas P.M. Barnett joined the firm as Chief Analyst a year later. Barnett is no longer with the firm.

In August 2013, retired United States Navy Captain Wayne Porter, who co-authored A National Strategic Narrative , joined Wikistrat as Lead Strategist. [5] Porter is no longer with the firm.

In recent years, Wikistrat analytic activity has accelerated rapidly. The firm ran approximately 20 strategic simulations in 2012 and conducted more than 30 in 2013. [6]

2011 Grand Strategy Competition

Between June and July 2011, Wikistrat hosted an "International Grand Strategy Competition" which tested the company's collaborative competition approach.

More than thirty teams of MA and PhD students representing universities and think tanks participated in the month-long competition. Teams simulated thirteen countries over the course of the competition, in which they:

  • analyzed country-specific economic, political and security interests
  • forecasted national trajectories and future strategic environment
  • defined strategic objectives
  • planned a grand strategy to achieve these objectives
  • stress-tested the strategies against geopolitical shocks to examine its resiliency

Participants' affiliations ranged from the UK Defence Forum, [7] the New York University School of Continuing and Professional Studies' Center for Global Affairs, [8] the University of Kentucky's Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce, [9] Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, [10] and the University of Sussex. [2] The team from Claremont Graduate University's School of Politics and Economics won the competition and a $10,000 prize. [2]

One of the most publicized pieces of analysis resulting from the competition was the NYU team's prediction that Russia would ultimately have to outsource its security if it were to continue experiencing demographic decline, and if its economy were to remain heavily dependent on commodity exports. [2] Participants from the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies argued that India was rooting for Pakistan's disintegration, considering the collapse of the Muslim state as a prerequisite to fully institutionalizing India's alliance with the United States. [2] Students at Sussex believed that North Korea would collapse without Chinese support and therefore recommended that the nation diversify its allies. [2]

The 2011 competition was cited by Reuters as evidence that governments and scholars of international relations were once again focusing on grand strategies "in a way not seen since the Cold War." [2]

Media exposure

In 2010, it ran a simulation on the death of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il, the results of which were referenced (in articles by the organization's chief strategist) on CNN, [2] Time [2] and World Politics Review [2] after Kim died in late 2011.

The firm has been cited by such media outlets as CNN, Reuters, Russia Today, Fox News and NPR as a consultancy of reference for geopolitical issues.

In 2013, Wikistrat ran a simulation for AFRICOM that explored various futures for illicit trafficking in the Trans-Sahel region of Africa. [2]

In January 2014, Wikistrat analysts predicted the rise of a separatist movement in Crimea seeking Russian annexation. This process unfolded in March 2014, quite similarly to how Wikistrat had projected. [3] As such, Wikistrat gained acclaim for being one of the first consultancies to produce an accurate forecast of the situation. Some analyzing the situation went so far as to proclaim that Wikistrat "beat the CIA." [3]