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How Scenario Planning can help organisations emerge from the COVID fog

Tuesday 10, Nov 2020

At The CEO Circle, we have continued to hold our regular Circle meetings (virtually, of course) throughout the COVID-19 crisis. 

It has been a fascinating and sometimes emotionally charged experience, listening to our many members speak about the leadership challenges they have had to confront and overcome. 

In my 13 years with The CEO Circle, I have not seen our members tackle a more complex set of collective challenges. Personally, it has been a humbling, exhausting and inspiring experience. 

Among the most common topics to come up in Circle meetings was scenario planning. In the normal course of events, scenario planning is an important and regular part of how most successful organisations go about setting goals and strategy for the future. 

However, during the past six or so months, scenario planning has taken on a whole new level of importance. COVID-19 introduced such an abundant array of complicating factors into play that when we first grasped its enormity, we all felt dizzy just thinking about its implications.  

In truth, we are all still trying to get our heads around what it all means.  

There's still no vaccine. No one is entirely sure of the economic ramifications, domestically and globally. And we don't know the long-term effects the crisis may have on such things as mental health, education, international travel and a host of other things. 

All of this means that scenario planning is essential.  

But scenario planning in the time of COVID can't be what it used to be – it has to be turbo-charged. Events move too quickly, and the stakes are too high to move at a leisurely pace anymore.  

As our meetings progressed, we made sure to continually update a spreadsheet of the different topics raised in our Circle meetings. Around 50 separate topics were documented. 

The breadth and depth of the issues raised illustrated just how far-ranging the challenges have been for businesses. From concerns about the skills shortage created by the abrupt halt to immigration through to data privacy and security, the issues raised by members have all required significant assessment and policy thought.