If the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us one thing, it’s that the future is notoriously difficult to predict. As the medical, financial and competitive impacts of the crisis grip the sports industry, organizations are looking for ways to insulate themselves from further turbulence in the months and years ahead.
When it comes to the mitigation of risk, effective scenario planning can be one of the most potent tools in an organization’s armory. In simple terms, scenario planning is a way for organizations to anticipate the future for strategic, tactical, and operational reasons. As a process, its power lies in the fact that it taps into two of our most fundamental learning mechanisms – storytelling and game playing.
As an activity that seeks to create compelling stories about plausible futures, it is vital that the scenario planning process engages with as diverse a range of experiences and perspectives as possible. Intellectual, cultural, operational, gender and social diversity are universally acknowledged to be essential for effective scenario planning. With that in mind, the key to the first phase of the process is to gather as many opinions as possible from as wide a base as is practicable.
The more diverse the pool of opinions, the less likely organizations are to only plan for scenarios that feel realistic or comfortable to their leadership. A robust scenario planning process will take a broad range of views into account, analyze them for probability and impact, group them together, and develop a number of potential outcomes covering the issues at hand.
By creating stories about a range of futures, many of which may be uncomfortable to consider, sports organizations can build a framework and common language for reasoned discussion about possible outcomes. This can serve to improve their resilience to negative events by developing a greater confidence in their ability to adapt to uncertainty.
Of course, predicting the future with any degree of accuracy is an extremely difficult thing to do. However, that shouldn’t dissuade organisations from using scenario planning to map potential developments – both in this crisis and beyond it – that could have a significant impact on their people and operations in the months and years ahead.
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