Planning Part 5 – Scenarios

Posted on: March 23, 2021

In the past, creating a feasible action plan based on our business knowledge and the information available to us might only need a few minor adjustments along the way to remain relevant and viable. What we learned in 2020 was that sometimes things change radically and very quickly. Scenario planning is a way to generate “if this, then that” backup plans.

Typically in scenario planning, you generate one better-than-expected scenario and one worse-than-expected scenario. That is helpful, but it may be of greater benefit to create additional scenarios that you think or even feel, could throw a wrench into your original plan.

So, back to our example of your high-priced shampoo (Part 3, Part 4), one scenario might be that not only does your marketing tactic succeed in expanding your customer base, with most people working again, but saving money by working from home, many of your other higher-priced items also get very popular. What would you need to do to increase production, order processing, and delivery to take advantage of this boom in business?

Now, what if the ad campaign didn’t work? What if people stopped buying all of your higher-priced items? Could you create a slightly different “new and improved” product at a lower price? Could you find a new market selling to salons instead of direct to consumer?

Scenarios are not meant to cover highly unlikely total disasters. That’s a waste of your time and energy. A scenario-based backup plan can really help though to create a more creative mindset and prepare you for necessary pivots. For example, perhaps you’ve started to become concerned about a supplier. There’s nothing concrete, but you just have a feeling that a problem could be brewing. Having a strategy to deal with that if something does go wrong, will allow you to quickly resolve the issue and take the worry off your mind.

So, think about potential better-than-expected-scenarios, as well as two or three negative developments that you wouldn’t be too surprised by. You don’t need to create detailed plans for scenarios at this point, but have a strategy in place so you can start to implement it quickly if need be.


Other Articles in this Series:
Planning Part 1 – Setting Goals and Objectives
Planning Part 2 – Environmental Scanning
Planning Part 3 – Consider Your Customers
Planning Part 4 – Timing Strategies and Tactics
Planning Part 5 – Scenarios