Scenario Planning Process

PESTLE, VUCA, SWOT, Inflection point curve and even the 5 forces of framework by Professor Porter are actually strategic business tools which could help you assess your business and/or the business environment as whole. However, in doing the strategic planning process, a strategic practitioner should not only culminate the assessment and analyses here, rather continue to the next step which is the Scenario Planning Process. Doing so will help you anticipate and mitigate risks in the future as well as help you plan at different points and levels to make decisions.

This exercise is simple but helpful. You simply have to create multiple different environment or realities of the future of your business.

  1. Identify the driving forces. You can refer to your PESTLE, VUCA, SWOT and other business tool you probably have used.
  2. Identify critical uncertainties. Depending on the kind of industry, determine the things that you might not know about. Then among the uncertainties list, keep those which you think would really affect your business
  3. Develop Plausible Scenarios. Get the guestimation and creative thinking rolling! Ask how WH scenarios might look like in x number of years? After which, create a scenario planning matrix imagining as if you are there – being transported to the future. With my case studies at school, I normally use the Worst-Business as Usual – Best matrix since its cleaner and easier to fill in, but you can use the X-Y axis too. Note that it may take a lot of brain works if you try to project scenarios in 10++ years.
  4. Discuss Implications and Paths. Try to address challenges so you can make the organisation successful. How will you act on it?
In order to do this well, you have to veritably know the industry you belong to.

You might think that this is rubbish and a waste of time since we are all just making guesses – we don’t know where we are going to be or what is it going to be. Yes, correct, but it’s the science, art and math of putting together long range planning to help mitigate all kinds of risks and be prepared to tackle it. At some point, whether now or in the future, you have to make decisions and doing this process will keep you ahead of the game.

It stirs you closer to reality.

Strategic planning is not all about getting there and hitting the billion dollar target, or tweaking the mission/vision statement. It is about being ready with unexpected realities that might possibly stifle or paralysed the business.

Ian’s Note: Most of the contents here are based on my learnings from Leeds Business School, UK to which I am currently enrolled as an MBA Student. This is merely a synopsis of my understanding. I hope you could learn something out of it too. Love lots and stay safe.

Ever heard of Pestle and Vuca?

Environmental scanning has always been a part of to-dos whenever an organisation does its year Corporate Strategic Planning. This environmental scan determines and identifies the external factors that drive a business or that may drive the business in the future. 

One of the common (if not overused) business analysis tools, perhaps is the two-by-two matrix used to build SWOT, with horizontal pairings of Strengths and Weaknesses; Opportunities and Threats, and how you could then convert your Weaknesses to Strengths; your Threats to Opportunities.

Another tool is the use of Inflection Point Curve where an organisation determines some changes in the environment that may impact the business 10x or more. As believed, if an organisation gets this right, business will reach new heights. If an organisation ignores or neglects the signals, then business might fall to critical decline.

We have probably heard both tools mentioned above during our University days or even from our workplace. I , for one, is writing and illustrating right now based on learning vestiges (at least) from my marketing classes almost a decade ago.

But… what if I tell you that there are actually other more helpful analysis tools I just learned 10 years after? Yes, just now and we are going to learn it together.

PESTLE, a mnemonic, which stands for Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental Analysis. This framework gives a drone view of the whole macro-environment from many different angles. Other companies call this PESTEL or STEPLE. Whichever way, this tool is a much more comprehensive form of SWOT and it is critical that companies understand the complete depth every letters represent.

VUCA, on the other hand, is actually a military acronym for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. This framework has been actively and frequently used by civilian business executives and leaders professing that certain elements which make soldiers combat-ready can be applied in the business prairie too. The business idea is simply to be ready for new trends that require rapid transition as our world continues to become more complex, more uncertain and much less predictable – VUCA WORLD.

Both Pestle and Vuca business analysis tools can be utilised in Scenario Planning as part of the strategic planning process. We can tackle this on my next blog post. If you have not explored Pestle or Vuca yet, I really recommend that you give it a good read and research. As of right now, I am currently doing my case studies using these frameworks. It is so much fun!

Ian’s Note: Most of the contents here are based on my learnings from Leeds Business School, UK to which I am currently enrolled as an MBA Student. This is merely a synopsis of my understanding. I hope you could learn something out of it too. Love lots and stay safe.

What now! What’s next?

This pestilence undeniably has brought so much malaise to all of us. Things are never the same and perhaps it would take years to fully adopt such new normalcy. They say that culling is God’s natural order, but is it? Or are there some conspiracy theories behind this daunting Covid-19. Will leave that to you so you too can rack your brain.

One zillion bull-headed throngs. Half trillion comatose bleats. Ten million compassionate sobs. Seven million overwhelming cases. Four hundred thousand horrifying deaths. Tons of obscured anomalies and ad hoceries. 

Yes, the numbers are jolting but let us not forget that there is still that one thing. Ask yourself what had happened after the Black Death. We all know the answers since history books and some online platforms have made it get-at-able.

So for the :

Bull-headed throngs.  Tell me, why are you being so stubborn? Why is it that a simple stay- at-home-pleas cannot be easily shadowed? Which part of the language you do not understand? Are you bored or you just literally want to test the patience of our bureaucrats, front-liners and all those chaps who are risking their lives? Why would you go out with groupies for a gala? Why do you have to hustle in the crowd for some seasonal eatables? Haven’t you heard of social distancing? Perhaps, you haven’t just realised yet the impact of the pandemic until it’ll hit you and your loved ones hard.

Comatose bleats. Except for those well-grounded expressions, some bleats are just really kaput and imbecile. Hence, the word comatose. I am just dumbstruck by the many people acting like virtuosos in many fields. Tell me, why do you want to oust Officials in this trying times? Why are you harassing our front-liners? Why are you discriminating our folks? Why are you making dummy social media accounts just to spread fake news? Do we really need this attitude now or we need more synergy and ministrations?

Compassionate sobs. Overwhelming cases. Horrifying deaths. Sending my love and prayers from the corners of my room to wherever you are right now – heaven or earth. My heart bleeds every time I hear additional casualties or a new individual contracting the virus. I probably couldn’t plumb the depths of your pain but may your affliction serves as our groundwork to behave.

Tons of obscured anomalies and ad hoceries.  Let’s face it. Several people during the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) took advantage of the amelioration program of the Philippine Government. The kind of listing-their-relatives-cats-and-dogs-like. Political rivalries were also noticed as closing borders of one city from other political groups for commodity distributions. In effect, it took away people’s chance of receiving more goods as an additional aid for their daily needs. Some groups who are wholeheartedly helping are being ostracised and those doing it for publicity are greatly revered.  Treachery, exploit, inequality, among others, were also observed. Salute to our honest public servants and volunteers, and to our brave front-liners. In both conscience and kernel, you know you’re worth.

We are in a situation to which unity, awareness, empathy and nobility must be exercised and utilised. Kindly reserve all your enigmatic urges, pointless protests, unsolicited opinions and non-sensical biases for later. It will never bring any good. In PH alone, we already have 20 thousand ++ cases, yet as denizens, some of us are still lackadaisical with our very own safety and protection.

What happened after the Black Death? What is that one thing? To put it simply, it is…

THE RENAISSANCE. THE REBIRTH.

THE RESURGENCE.

A reverberating reminder that this will pass if we all care and provide support to each other. This will pass if we all act as humans realising that the virus cannot be seen by our human eyes. This will pass if we keep a proactive and scrupulous attitude. I don’t know when but it will end, and we’ll all be sieved individuals after this. May we all remain cautious and conscious as we journey to the end of this fray.

Great things will happen. People who survived will live much longer, smarter and healthier. Economy will bloom. Global network will revolutionise. Employment rate will increase. Crime rate will plummet. Religions will thrive. The Black Death was even worse, yet the world was able to resuscitate. I am looking forward to the world’s rebirth after this. Hope you look forward with me too, lovies.

Work From Home aides-memoire

A reminder to all chaps who WFH or with colleagues who WFH at the puff of this unprecedented COVID situation:

(1) Keep your values intact, quid pro quo. I am blessed to work in a company to which employees come first. My colleagues are not laid off, our benefits are not severed and our bimonthly salaries always come on time; and so, let’s reciprocate that altruism and do our part. Any company who adopted this Work From Home (WFH) arrangement (I believe), has only 3 unsung sine qua nons for its people: Honesty, Productivity and Commitment. Work as schedule dictates you. Are you being checked if you are before your PC or Laptop screen on time and is hollered every 10 minutes just to confirm if you are really working? I bet you don’t experience this kind of mental strain and physical torture but my brother-in-law, who is an Engineer/IT Specialist working remotely, does.

(2) Have a straitlaced schedule and exercise respect. Be sensitive to your colleagues’ personal ticks. When this WFH arrangement started about 2 months back, I made a schedule on how my typical M-S would look like. I strictly work from 8:30 am to 6:00 pm M-F ONLY. S-S are devoted to my rest and recreational toots (online Francais & Creative Writing classes and some random light workout). I don’t take meetings beyond 6PM, holidays or weekends. I don’t answer any calls and SMS outside the prescribed work schedule unless (1) a message is coming from the “royal family” or (2) a matter of life-and-death situation that has to be addressed immediately ie at the wee hour today, I received a call from one of our merchants with concerns on its store’s fire suppression and gas leaks.

WFH doesn’t mean you have to be overdemanding to yourself or with your colleagues. If you have truly rendered your effort, time and productivity during that required period, then your decency should be respected at all times BY ANYONE. Courtesy breeds respect. Respect breeds trust. You owe that courtesy to ANYONE you’re working and dealing with, even if the rank is lower than yours.

Another thing is when setting up e-meetings. (1) if you are the host, kindly please alarm the bell for notices first. Don’t just call people and insist to meet them in 10-15 minutes. You can peer in asking this question first: “Hey are you available to meet?” If the answer is yes, then your whims are granted. If it’s a no, then please understand that the person might be caught up with something or have other important matters to deal with. (2) If you are the host and you suddenly have other important meetings on the same schedule, please alarm the bell of notices (again) beforehand that the meeting has been postponed or cancelled. We all have a pre-planned calendar and that dissipated time waiting for you in Zoom, Viber, Hangout or whatever platform it was(is) could have been used for other things needing overriding attention. Again, at least be sensitive. Be courteous. (3) If you are one of the attendees and suddenly you cannot make it, then, kindly send a representative to take notes on your behalf. Brief your sub so he/she may not be flabbergasted during the e-meeting.

(3) Speak to your boss for any hint of nonplus feelings. Try to open supple discussions with your boss. Early April 2020, I told my boss about my disquietude. Although, I was religiously working from 8:30 am to 6:00 pm plait with deliberate ironclad commitment, I didn’t feel gratified at all. I work in Leasing and Retail Operations and as a Department Head, I tried exploring all department initiatives even those beyond-the-box-edges just to keep my calendar in rainbows. I filled it with meetings and the pre-meeting invites from other departments. I also reviewed plans and drawings relentlessly, set schedule with all my merchants and that quintessential checking and sending out of emails. Looked a lot at the hindsight but I missed the action at the forthsight – the beautiful noise and the graceful chaos (OPERATIONS) and the scouting of potential merchants (LEASING IN ACTION).  No matter how much I deputised each day (that time), I still ended up having a lot of trance and reverie click-clacks.

As we spoke over the phone, my boss was somewhat painting on my panache how her typical day looked like and how much work she pinned each day during the quarantine. It was very inspiring and I God-willingly told her if she could accord the Department some additional works to at least assuage my discontent of feeling half-full-days. Uh-uh! It is never about self-flagellation nor self-deprecation but more of self-actualisation.

***B: Are you sure of what you are asking and are you sure that you wouldn’t be stressed out with let’s say, irate buyers?

***Me: (Cajoling in my language). I’m good at that. Resilient as ever.

***B: Alright, this Department needs help, I will tell the head.

Wherefore, my Department was given the additional tasks and up to this time, we’re riveted performing at nonpareil.This is never a show-off, nor seeking pardon for all the department/interdeparment decision mishaps I’ve made in the past, nor a promotion agenda (I think being an executive at 28 is already a milestone for now). I just really wanted to feel useful and satisfied in all aspect. The company has been doing a lot for its people, some of my colleagues (front-liners) still reports to work despite the risks, some lends a hand for commodity distribution, while I am just at home doing less. I wanted to help in my own little way. I am also jovial that my team members have the same frame of mind and enthusiasm as I do. They were both receptive to the idea and both thought it’s an opportunity to show that #LeasingCares. To Ivan and Irish, you have proven the posit of the life-advice guru Kevin Kelly, that, being enthusiastic is worth 25 IQ points. Apart from helping, I am sure that you also coup d’œil company’s values and precedence.

BTW, salute to my CSR friends across the globe.“)

(4) Take leaves for personal errands or ask for letup consent from your boss.  I’d really feel guilty if my work-time is being eaten up by my personal errands. Treachery is the more appropriate word, I guess. We are being paid for our service and effort, we should yield what’s expected and rightful then. The company deserves that! Kindly try to do your thing – groceries, going to banks, visiting relatives, taking online classes, working out, etc – outside the prescribed work schedule. Better yet, ask a consent that you’ll be in a recess for a while for so-and-so reasons.

(5) Limit your social media prominence while working. Leisurely, start to detach yourself from cosmopolitan pleasures and your life will be even more meaningful. Multitasking is okay but I don’t think this is the most sensible paradigm. I keep my messenger open since some salient communications and updates are sent through but I only browse my FB scarcely, weekends the most. I even rarely pin a thumb (I am in IG every day but check by night time or early morning though).

(6) Be thankful. Working from home is indeed challenging due to myriad of reasons-  intermittent internet connections, sporadic phone signals, the howls of your domestic breeds, the spur-of-the-moment teases-and-piques of your kin and next of kin, the constant battle against distraction and the relentless note-to-self to keep sane. But hey, you are reading this, so it means you are staying safe in the warmth of your crib.  That, my friend, matters most in this unprecedented situation.

(7) Yay, you’ve reached the end and here’s the most important note of all: Please, at all times, regularly and timely pump cerebral spinal fluid through your brain cells and remove all metabolic by-products of the day’s thoughts. SLEEP! That, my friend, is a borrowed line from my favourite sitcom BIG BANG THEORY and was reverberated by Sheldon Cooper. I normally wield this virgule among my friends to sound cool. You can borrow this too to remind yourself that you need sleep to recharge. And by recharging, means, enough hours of sleep should be wangled according to the number of hours recommended for your age.  

We all have different strategies and level of comfort on how to do things. We also have recalcitrant limitations. This is not a judgment or a juxtaposition on how you manoeuvre or re-manoeuvre both your smart and stretch goals daily vs mine. If you found this helpful – THANK YOU and CONGRATULATIONS because you are about to embark the journey to self- actualisation . If it offended you – well, perhaps it kicked you through and through. BUT, at the end of the day, you only have to answer to yourself and to that still-small-voice:

  • Have I been productive?
  • Have I been lackadaisical?
  • Have I been honest?
  • Have I been helpful?
  • Have I done enough?
  • Have I shown the right blend of courtesy and respect towards others?
  • Have I sent the right tone of email?
  • Have I exercised my initiative?
  • Have I been both efficient and effective?
  • Have I been too torpid to my colleagues just because someone has also been pressuring me?

Be the judge and purr your answers to that still-small-voice. Au revoir!

I will now pump cerebral spinal fluid through my brain cells and remove all metabolic by-products of the day’s thoughts. Though, this is an old photo I actually just want to add that at times, it’s good to dress up while WFH. Just for a change.