UCL School of Management

25 February 2021

Experimenting with scenario planning

Photo of two people scenario planning with post-it-notes on a transparent board

Source: Unsplash/Airfocus

Speaking to Management Issues, Jim Berry discusses the importance of scenario planning for organisations to not only be better prepared for unexpected changes that can disrupt their business model but to help build a more robust organisation.

The business world is experiencing several radical shifts such as; COVID-19 and Brexit that many executives lament were unexpected. Although many organisations have adapted well over the last year, many did so in spite of themselves as teams were forced to rapidly and reactively reorganise their operations.

Berry suggests that businesses need to plan for the unexpected; they need to become robust organisations that can proactively strategize for the next radical change. He explains that effective scenario planning, undertaken in a structured manner it is not only a tool for developing proactive strategies that can be enacted in times of crisis, but it can also be a way to highlight potential weaknesses within the organisation or operations.

It is not about predicting any single disaster, but using a series of “What if” scenarios to identify critical areas of the business and develop proactive crisis plans.

Berry shares his seven-steps to structured scenario planning, reminding us of the importance of building this into the organisation; culture and not making a one-off practise. Through regular scenario planning sessions employees get to know the organisation more intimately and identify the areas of the business that may one day need attention in order to survive a radical shift in the business environment, and ultimately making you better prepared for it.

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Last updated Friday, 26 February 2021