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.

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.

Typical corporate ring scenarios

Before we enter into the ring, let’s lay down all the definitions first. Sipsip – is a Tagalog term for brown nosing, boot licking, ingratiating – to catalyse one’s advancement. Literally, it means to “suck up to” using an unrestrained and artificial flattering. Sipsips are ubiquitous in the workplace setting – and that doesn’t’ exempt Philippines. In fact, we, Pinoys came up with a meritorious full-form of it as Severely Insecure People Seeking for Instant Promotion (SIPSIP). Tanga, on the other hand, is a person who makes imprudent and unwise decisions. Literally, it means a “fool”. Tangas are quiet pervasive in the workplace setting too.

Now, we are entering the ring. You are the main character of course, and I would like you to ideate an amateur boxing bout (actual match) to which you’ve already gained judges favour. Why? Because you have had your game-plan and did your pre-fight preparation well. No – months before the event, you didn’t really hit the road, lift heavy bags and mitts or have had rounds of sparring. You’re not even ready to get hit.  Yes –months before the event, you did consistent flatteries with the judges. You simply drowned them with bags of wishes and large sum of hypocritical compliments. How fool the judges are to not read that.

During the bout, you missed a number of notable overhand and corkscrew punches in some rounds, yet you kept on releasing rabbit punches even when you know it’s illegal. You were also unable to dodge a quick southpaw blow. You kept on clinching and sometimes you rope-a-dope or fall hardly into the canvass. By the end of the match, your face is wreaked havoc with remarkable bruises and cuts and a cauliflower ear, yet you were still duked as winner. Your opponent on this tall tale, though how much deserving for the title failed to bag it. His painstaking preparation and exhibition of rapid bolo,and bob-and-weave just didn’t seem to buy out. He never even had an eight-count. Deym! Was there something?

Flattery is all powerful and this mojo never goes out of style. Though up in the boxing ring you looked incompetent- lacking the skill set, the judges still favour you because of your prowess to fawn over them. Your hard work has paid off in bagging the belt-of-fame but spectators see you as ne’er-do-well. Way to go sucker!

As an employee in a corporate ring, we all have vested interest in winning a promotion for a fat pay check or fame. Nothing wrong with that. However, the problem arises when you do it out of selfish desires. Instead of working on competencies and performing efficiently at work, you end up brown nosing. Sipsip jud! Another problem is, when an employer  fails to recognize a brown noser. Tanga-tanga sad.

I know. I definitely know. We all like compliments. In fact, there is this article posted in Harvard Business Review site that can support my statement, and I quote, “You don’t believe me. You couldn’t possibly — after all, I’ve never seen you. But, chances are, on an unconscious level you really do believe me, and my compliment makes you feel warm and gooey inside. And your positive feelings predispose you to do something nice for me, so if I were a salesman or your subordinate or your colleague, that nice something, whatever it is, could definitely make my day.”

Uh-Uh! True but NOT WHEN THEY’RE FAKE.  Huge caveat: As an employer, be prudent in detecting brown nosers. Should you feel compliments are getting insincere and faux, that’s already code red. Talk to the referee and ask for a time-out immediately.

There are no shortcuts to winning a boxing match or coveting that long dream promotion. Preparation matters. Brown nosing may take you up but won’t keep you up. Competency speaks for itself. Efficiency reflects results. When judges or your bosses are already awaken from apathy and finally detect you’re sucking up for personal advancement, you’re then susceptible to TKO- technical knockout punch and you may be declared as loser.

Do you want to get a boo or a hoh hoh? You decide!

How to tame your Boss’ strong, dominant personality

Six months ago, I started a new job in a Real Estate Industry under the management of a Senior Executive with strong, dominant personality. Although this attribute is expected from a top-ranked leader, I was feeling like in a constant battle dealing with him. His four-walled office has been our battleground where our ideas and thoughts clashed vehemently. Most often, I always insist mine.

Such strong personality agitates me for I possess them too. Only difference, the big difference rather is I AM STILL SOUR and UNREADY. Does a very feisty mid-management millennial with less experience but think she’s a know-it-all GI needless of any direction from an experienced commander sound familiar to you?

He is armored with vigorous experience and shield with cogent knowledge I don’t want to concede. Until such time, I was maimed by him almost had no chance of surviving the mental combat. It took me a while to realise my stratagem was defective. With humility, I surrendered.

Today, we are now on truce and each day I work industriously on becoming his greatest ally. Here’s how I did it:

1. Listen first. As millennial/s, we normally have tendencies cutting off a conversation because we want to say something precipitously. Listen intently for listening is the key to all effective communication. Let the Exec finish his discourse and wait until he opens the floor for your stance or opinion. Once you developed your listening skills, you can easily underpin any positive human relationship – one of your building blocks to success.

2. Obey. Even if you find the direction antithetical or contradictory to your judgment, take heed and follow without disputing. Predominantly, when Execs make decisions or try to solve crises, they don’t refer to books studied page-by-page back in college. They normally take it from their years of experience. You’ll be surprised how their seemingly awkward accord can save an entire organization/negotiation. What’s the shot? Simply say, “Yes Sir”.

3. Have confidence towards. Believe that Executives are brought in such position because they are veritably good at their craft. It is not easy reaching the loftiest position in an organization if one does not elicit the needed skill set – both soft and hard.

4. Know your boss credential and/or back story. Should you not be that convinced with point 3, then do your research. It will help you understand where they are coming from or where to place yourself.

5. Don’t take it personally. Do not retaliate or feel acrimonious when your ideas are rejected or not heard. Often, Senior Execs are looking into a much wider horizon to ensure all aspects are given due consideration. Your ideas may just be fragmentary. However, should you feel like it’s the best solution to the conundrum, come back later bringing out-and-out supporting documents.

6. Respect. For one, he deserves this as your senior. You can respectfully follow orders even if you don’t always agree with them.   Second, as they say “respect begets respect” – so let your respect illumines and hope he reciprocates it too.

7. Come back with humor. Humor, not sarcasm, always ease tensions. It makes discussions lighter.

If it still feels like you’re in an office skirmish, just at least ward yourself off with Point 1. Simply because it’s the basic yet a cardinal rule in creating a harmonious relationship whether in your workplace, home or everywhere.

Good luck and hoping you could tame your boss’s dominant personality too!