Scenario Planning: Worst case scenario? And the best possible outcome? Do you really think either extreme’s likely to happen? So let’s plan the likely ones.
Scenario Planning – What’s The Worst Case?
“What’s the worst that can happen”? Sometimes quite a liberating question when confronting something worrying us, in that when we look for answers to this incisive question, we often realize that it doesn’t look so bad after all, does it?
I use this question a lot in my coaching as a “worry diluter” to help clients wrestling with something to start looking for additional perspectives to their situation. Inevitably this leads to an “easing up” of some of the tension around the topic and diverts their mind away from the “worry” and into the arena of “possibility” instead.
Scenario Planning – What’s The Best Case?
Of course at some point it will be inevitable to ask: “what’s the best possible outcome we could imagine?” thereby going all the way to the opposite end of a spectrum of possibilities, right?
Having “stretched their mind” to that end of the continuum, it is usually possible to entertain that neither is necessarily likely, but that the expected outcome might lie somewhere between these two outside points. Then we are able to start identifying some likely options and with those in place, we can focus our attention on the likelihood of each occurring. With that come the effort, benefit and risk assessment and any mitigation options.
And do you know what I’ve found that my clients find the most liberating about this situation in that conversation? They realize they have options. That they needn’t feel under as much pressure as they might have done before we started on that journey. They have opened their mind. They feel empowered. This is often where confidence and enthusiasm creeps back in. “Could it be that we are on the verge of …..?”
And the most important aspect for me as the coach, is that I haven’t done anything other than ask the right questions. They have come up with all the answers and because they did, they will own and implement them.
Of course we know that the mind is much more open to opportunity “when it is open”. And off we go in pursuit of what will inevitably work best for them in or out of that situation. It really works so well. If you are a leader of people, I would urge you to get really good at this empowering approach with those you lead.
However, I would also like to broaden its application and venture into the realm of business planning. In my career management coaching and my meetings management and negotiation skills grooming I place significant emphasis on being well prepared. It is also a very powerful approach to any planning you need to do.
Scenario Planning – Planning the most likely outcomes
I have found this approach to force us to cover the entire spectrum of possible options for the plan or meeting or negotiation we are preparing for, simply by working through:
- What is the best possible outcome I can expect?
- What is the worst possible outcome I can expect?
- What likely scenarios might there be between those two points?
- How can we assess their likelihood and prepare for their eventuality or mitigate their risks for each one?
I also often compare this to preparing for a move in the game of chess. We don’t consider our next move in isolation, do we? We always consider what counter moves each might invoke and how those might affect our (and their) following move or even a few moves beyond that.
In my career planning and career management coaching this is used just as powerfully in respect of the next role or career move or any subsequent others that could lead to, and also to allowing what I describe in Leap Frogging to happen. What doors could each scenario open and what doors could it close? I also use it frequently when I’m helping an executive client prepare for their annual performance review, (refer Performance Management Trilogy) usually with sensational outcomes. As well as when planning for or preparing a project plan – large or small? Scenario planning simply forces you to cover so many more options.
In all of the above applications and in so many more, these become a key part of any professional planning and preparation as I outline in Do you have a Plan?. And you know what I’ve found? It isn’t that hard to be better prepared than “the other party”. Why? I am amazed at how many people in business “wing it” and simply “hope for the best” without giving themselves the empowered confidence that accompanies good planning or good preparation. Lack of planning or preparation usually means the arrival of undesirable surprises .
So Why Not You?
So why not put yourself in front? Why not stack the odds strongly in your favour? Why not try this approach on and see if works for you? What if it did? Or maybe you engage the professional support services of a coach and use the advantage to put you “on top of your game and ahead of the rest”? I know you won’t be disappointed.