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Lance Mortlock On Scenario Planning to Drive Strategic Decisions

Lance Mortlock is a Senior EY Strategy Partner. He is author of the book Disaster Proof: Scenario Planning for Post Pandemic Future, which explores ways scenario planning can help organizations be more resilient. This is a must-read book for anyone in the Risk Management field. It provides practical advice for strategists, planners, executives and board members on how to ask better questions related to the future, uncertainty, risk and strategy.

In this OODAcast, we ask Lance for insights into what planners can learn from major global events from the last few decades and how scenario planning can help organizations prepare for the big shocks.

Scenario Planning goes beyond simple strategy development and strategic planning. Strategic plans are almost never agile enough for the real world. Scenario planning helps organizations prepare for increasing levels of global uncertainty and complexity. When done well it results in playbooks that can help speed decision-making in the moment.

Scenario Planning originated with the military and has been firmly rooted in military strategy and is continually leveraged at major military staff headquarters to map out potential futures. Students of military history may know of famous scenario planners like Herman Kahn of RAND.  Kahn had met with a forward thinking executive at Shell, Pierre Wack, who became the first business leader to adapt scenario planning commercially. Lance discusses how many corporations since then have leveraged scenario planning to anticipate futures and prepare for both increased risk and opportunities.

Lessons we learned from Lance include:

  • Expected outcomes from scenario planning
  • Repeatable methods to get the most from planning sessions
  • How Lance’s methods of scenario planning for corporations can be translated to scenario planning for individuals (which makes for some excellent career advice)
  • Potential scenarios involving the impact of Covid-19 on the global business environment
  • What could be the next big disruptive event
  • The uncertainty and complexity and potential risks and opportunities associated with Artificial Intelligence

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