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Combat Uncertainty with Scenario Planning

If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. Even the most far-sighted prognosticators predicted little of what this year would bring – and how multi-layered crises would affect every industry and market. The reality of the VUCA world (accepting the certainty that Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous events will derail your plans) is why we stress that Planning & Readiness is one of the most important competencies for development, for individuals and organizations. Scenario Planning is a key tool to advance your Planning & Readiness. With scenario planning, you can begin to “know what you don’t know” and make plans around a sure-to-be uncertain future. Read on for our guidelines for a successful team Scenario Planning exercise.

The Planning & Readiness competency includes the ability to:

  • Identify priorities and develop plans to achieve personal and team goals.
  • Invest in planning activities to ensure personal, team and organizational preparedness for change, challenges and disruptions.
  • Spend time on what is mission-critical.

In order to increase your competency in these areas, scenario planning is an indispensable exercise. It allows you to better visualize your organization’s future based on a range of likely and unlikely, positive and negative scenarios. It’s crucial to get as detailed as possible, because the strength of your plan is your competitive advantage. From understanding the effects of various events to the ability to act decisively when challenges do strike, it’s extremely valuable to capture insight and data when you are NOT in emergency mode.

What should your scenario plan include?

The optimal plan will vary widely according to industry, but discussion prompts can include:

  • A long recession
  • Environmental events
  • Changing customer expectations
  • The employee of the future
  • Expansion plans
  • Competition for talent

Use this Scenario Planning Matrix with guiding questions to hone in on the scenarios most important to your organization, workforce and industry. The matrix will help you delve into discussions that force you to get realistic about your capacity to handle change –  like team bandwidth, key internal drivers, and the external factors forcing your hand. The final product will yield a number of plausible scenarios you can use to inform your strategic planning and direct resources for the future.

Reach out to our team of expert consultants if you need help, advice, or a facilitator for this exercise. We believe that organizations that embrace this process will emerge ready to lead in a complex, increasingly volatile world.

Success Labs is a leadership development and management consulting firm in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. For more than 25 years, our expert team of consultants has worked with hundreds of companies to grow leaders, build teams and drive results through great people strategy. Contact us to get proactive about expanding your company’s potential.

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