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planning in uncertainty

Those who fail to plan plan to fail. Right ? And then there's a war and your CEO may be on the front line.

As they say in Yiddish "Der mentsh trakht un Got lakht" which translates roughly as

Man proposes, God disposes.

Planning may be the last thing on your mind when you are in crisis but sometimes decisions won't wait. But when everything is unclear you have to think about uncertainty in a more structured way. Here are the short cuts that will get you through until things are back to normal.

1. Use WHAT IF questions for developing different views of your future.

Here are some examples:

Professional Services e.g Design Consultancy:

What If tech continues its slump. How will you market your services?

Construction Industry Player :

What If infrastructure projects are slow to pick up in the next two years?

This way you get different scenarios for your business.


Work out which moves would make sense across most of the different scenarios of the future.

Mckinsey calls these no-regret moves which are easier to take.


So far you have come up with a bunch of scenarios and the moves which need be taken in that scenario.

You also need to set out the signals for when your organisation should begin to act on that move. Identifying the signals means that you can act at the right time. Things may change fast but if you've thought through some of the possibilities & your responses beforehand you'll be in better shape.

As an example, the design consultancy CEO may say that a signal for developing new marketing channels is if sales for Spring 2024 by established clients fall by x%.

Plans are worthless but planning is everything. That thought is attributed to Eisenhower, Churchill, Anonymous and probably anyone who has ever looked at a Strategic Plan six months after it was written.

The truth is that no plan should ever be written in stone - even in less volatile times. But it's the planning process where you have to think through different scenarios which is the invaluable part.

Those that fail to do planning, plan to fail.

It has less of a ring to it but it's definitely nearer the mark.


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