On this episode of STRAT with Hal Kemper and Mark Mansfield, today’s world is one of strategic risk, where the once ‘unlikely’ is now ‘likely,’ and the ‘never could happen,’ does happen. These events are awkward for everyone - leaders, stakeholders, and investors. As the famous Marine Corps poster of John Wayne as 'Sgt. John Stryker' in the Sands of Iwo Jima succinctly framed: "life's tough, but it’s tougher if you’re stupid.” While that message was bluntly aimed at those going through Marine Boot Camp in the movie, the parallel today is that ignorance is not bliss - the ability and capability to fully envision both probable and possible scenarios, and plan, accordingly, is not a "nice to have," rather it’s a strategic “must have.”
Too many organizations conduct their “planning” based on ill-conceived or ill-informed historical “assumptions” rather than a forward looking – ‘heads-up’ approach. To that point, President and General Eisenhower once said that ‘peacetime plans are useless, but peacetime planning is priceless,’ meaning it is the intellectual rigor of the planning process that helps prepare us for whatever will eventually happen, even if our current plans are not identical to the unfolding events; at the very least we must be somewhat prepared and ‘directionally correct’ to take action and mitigate risk.
Scenario based planning depends on fostering adaptability as well as flexibility, through a rigorous and dynamic planning approach. Too often this is lacking in companies subsumed with day-to-day ‘optempo’ requirements, or where the “opinion of the boss” vanquishes critical thought, “loyal opposition” to groupthink and desperately needed innovation. This must be broken down and replaced with objectivity, nimbleness, and an action mindset.
Mark Mansfield and Hal Kempfer explore the various facets of this topic, drilling down below the headlines and catch phrases to develop a better understanding of not just what it means, but figuring out what it means we need to do.