by Learning Department

September 01, 2021

Leveraging Scenario Planning in Times of Confusion


When business and the world change, it often requires a change to systems and strategies, creating pivots that are largely uncertain. A stressful reaction doesn’t help, but it is difficult to avoid stress. We can agree to a person that we all hope that this COVID era is almost over. It sure doesn’t seem like it. 


Different People Take Different Approaches to Manage Their Stress: 


  • Do nothing
  • Plan for the worst and hope for the best
  • Rage against reality and do tons of research to try to force the right answer.


What Worries Us Most is Always the Unknown

Our discomfort will be there constantly, even if you think you are friends with the right answer. The only thing I know for sure is Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow are still dancing frantically, undefined, and certainly not yet normal. Ironically, even the tightest, most productive teams are still plagued with twists and turns. Our only stability is a continued distraction. Here are a few simple thoughts that may help a bit, but they will NOT FIX the churn: 


  • Agility tends to be a necessity in good and bad times.
  • Do not let the quest for perfection get in the way of delivering value.
  • Do not focus on technology, but instead on risks and the value proposition.
  • Use the techniques you’ve always used; don’t jump out just to be different.
  • Involve and work with others who want to figure out the past and future before accepting a solution.
  • Continue to be Brave: Take chances, come up with new ideas, and force yourself to stay present and not go through the motions. 


The Little Prince & Scenarios

You and/or your children may have read or seen The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Saint-Exupéry began writing this book during World War II, after Germany’s invasion of France. Making a tough choice, he was forced to give up aviation and France to flee to New York. 


Saint-Exupéry shares:

“... there is one problem and only one in the world: to revive in people some sense of personal meaning. Even our misfortunes are a part of our belongings.”


Using Scenarios Helps You Look Deeper into Your Own Assumptions

Managers who can expand their imaginations to see a wider range of possible futures will be much better positioned to take advantage of the unexpected opportunities that will come along. 


Begin by Grounding

Prepare to manage and measure your performance and the performance of others with you. Clearly share and communicate strategy, keep up-to-date schedules, adapt quickly when needed, and keep your thoughts updated. This chart is still very viable for bounding a scenario experience. 



Here are four useful steps to stop jumping to the first solution and instead learn from different possibilities. Here’s a process to begin:


  • What would you like to change?
  • Develop a Strategy by determining your core purpose.
  • Imagine your future in 5 years... what will be your unique position?
  • Determine where you want to go with long-term objectives.


A Step-by-step Guide to Scenario Planning

Here’s an interesting piece on our current Pandemic using Scenarios. 


“In short, scenario planning attempts to capture the richness and range of possibilities, stimulating decision-makers to consider changes they would otherwise ignore. At the same time, it organizes those possibilities into narratives that are easier to grasp and use than great volumes of data. Above all, however, scenarios are aimed at challenging the prevailing mindset. Hence, scenario-planning differs from the three aforementioned techniques in its epistemic level of analysis.”



If you are interested in learning how to use Scenario Planning to explore multiple futures, the mid-month newsletter will share the process more specifically. 


The Little Prince book image source:


Learning Department

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