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Posts Tagged ‘scenario planning

Who is taking care of Plan B and C, while you mind the store?

And if you had someone to take care of Plan B and C, would you be able to concentrate fully on Plan A?

I’ve met all sorts of interesting people at Spicy Networking hosted by Julius Solaris and Carmen Boscoli in London.  They organize ‘soirees’ for up-and-coming entrepreneurs in London.

Scenario Planner

The fellow who looks after Plan B and C for us while we look after Plan A is Brett Dawson.   He’s a chemical engineer by training, a strategist by inclination, and a planner by trade.  He makes sits you down, alone, or with your team, and gets you to think about what you haven’t had time to think about.

Then he makes sure Plans B and C are ready to roll, just in case.

You win in three ways with a good scenario planner

1.  You get Plan B and C thought out and ready to roll, if you need them.

2.  You get to concentrate fully on Plan , raising the chances that you will be brilliantly successful and not need Plan B or C at all.

3.  You think about your unfolding situation a bit more and make Plan A heaps better!

Scenario Planning by Polar Bears

If you want a shorter version, go here!

Fast failure forward, lateral thinking, three steps ahead here.

If you want to find Brett .  .  .

Well, he is a busy man, so you will have to look hard!  You might be able to catch him at Spicy Networking when he is socializing.  Or you can contact the organizers of Spicy Networking, Julius and Carmen, and ask them to set up a three way meeting.  Or you can talk to me nicely!

I know Brett is sympathetic to start-ups so if you fear you cannot afford him, think laterally.  You might be able to ‘pay forward’ or reciprocate in some way.  Or ask him!  He is the lateral thinker.

P.S. As a hobby, he writes science fiction novels to help people image a sustainable and green world!

Self-appointed recession guru

Do I dare call myself a recession guru?  Why not?  I spent most of life working in a regional centre given to trouble and strife!  If we weren’t rapidly readjusting to major political turmoil, we were adjusting to the effects of drought on agriculture which was our primary economy.  In a good year, the economy expanded 3%.  When the rains didn’t come, we went back 3%.

  • We got very good at scenario planning and not over-reacting.  We were brought up on the phrase: anyone can make money when the markets are going up.  A business person plans for the up and the down.
  • We stopped blaming people.  If weather is the problem, then plan for it!
  • We learned about the economy.  As an HR consultant, my business wasn’t hit in the year the economy went down.  It would feel the pain 2-3 cycles later.  Simply, psychologists don’t work with farmers very  much.  We work with people who supply the farmers and people who supply the suppliers.  It takes a little time for the effects to work through the levels.
  • We learned what the numbers meant.  For the record, a downturn of 7% will have accountants hyperventilating.  Quite often their firms are technically bankrupt and they should cease trading – but if every one is in the same boat, you breath fast and trade through!  Equally I can tell you with confidence that you can survive 100% inflation quite well. At 300% expect people to get seriously ill.  Relax.  We aren’t there yet!
  • And above all we learned to focus.  We learned to sack customers who didn’t pay on time!  It is disconcerting to shrink your revenue, grow your profit and play more golf.  But that is how it works!

Time management

BNET published a good article today on time management.  The centre piece of the article is the busy, busy person who is racing around being busy being busy.

Since I have come to live in the UK, I have been stunned by poor time management.  I am amazed by someone who delegates his time management to a subordinate (usually blokes delegating to gals?).   Beyond a junior levels of management, our tasks aren’t serial, they are interrelated.

Let me give you an example:  I email you asking to discuss something.  You email back to say yes and speak to your secretary.  I write to her (usually).  She consults you (or doesn’t).  She writes back with some questions about time.  I write back.  She confirms.

7 emails to do something you had the power to do in your first reply.  When I confirmed, that would be 3 emails.

The pre-email rule is that any piece of paper should come across your desk once and once only.  You should have been sufficiently clear about your priorities to make a decision whether or not the meeting with me was important to you and how our meeting would move your major project forward.

All else is dross.

HR and the recession

As HR practitioners, we have a major role in a recession:

  • Make sure we are calm ourselves.  Get the HR team taking exercise, working reasonable hours and secure about their own prospects.
  • Back up the people like accountants who are on the front line.  Spend time with them to make sure they are taking exercise, working reasonable hours and calm about their own prospects!
  • Get the conversations about the economy and the company humming.  Make sure managers understand the economy and talk to staff (I’ve heard of Royal Bank of Scotland managers unable to discuss credit derivatives with their staff – don’t be like that please!).  Resource the conversation and support it with social media.
  • Make sure people understand what factors the business must focus on to succeed and keep them focused!

Above all of course, we should be focused.

“Know your Number 1 priority. If you achieved nothing else in the next 12 months, what single achievement would most contribute to the success of your organisation?”

Can we answer this question ourselves?  How many people in the organization could state the No 1 priority for

  • the organization
  • their unit
  • their boss
  • themselves
  • each of their colleagues
  • their subordinates

Remember, any one can do business in good times.  It is the bad times that test our credentials.

RECESS RECORDS

 

Image via Wikipedia

1

Hmm, my little survey of our reactions to the credit crunch show surprising optimism.  Briefly we haven’t been hit yet, we are doing little planning and we expect to use the recession to leap ahead.

2

Management gurus such as Henry Mintzberg believe that we have less of an economic crisis and a massive management crisis – our structures don’t allow good decision making.  Very much in the lap of HR?

3

And Watson Wyatt report HR responses to the crunch/recession.  Cut back on costs including training.

Is that all that is necessary, and possible?  Tidy up a little and slow the economy by spending less?

UPDATE: For an HR Managers perspective on the Recession, I have written a summary on a new post.

UPDATE:  Best to carry on living, but with verve and vigor!  Step into your dream and make it happen in spite of the recession!

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in a blaze of glory

Image by Darwin Bell via Flickr

For the last two weekends, I ran a little poll here on your plans for beating the recession.  The full poll and results are at the end of the post.

Of the two score or so people who answered, this was the modal response.

I have only scenario planned the future INFORMALLY.  I am planning to 2010.  My business is YET to be affected by the recession.  I expect to grow 25% over a 2007 baseline.  I will find a RECESSION-BEATING strategy.

So are we confident or fool-hardy?

Let me add these three observations.

  • People who answer online polls are “geeks” or “geek-like”.  Maybe all of poll results are true.  We haven’t been badly affected and we understand what is going on sufficiently to improve our businesses.
  • A prudent economist friend of mine offers the following:  the stock market has dropped 50% since its peak of October 2007 (possibly more by today).  The average growth rate per year is 6%.  Assuming a good recovery, stock prices will recover their value in 50/6=8 years time (2016).  This simple arithmetic may be useful for people managing their portfolios or planning their retirement.  Notice that people in my survey (typically) assume 4x the average growth rate.  During coaching, some nudging towards practical plans might be necessary.
  • Before I left Zimbabwwe, and while it was already obvius that things were going wrong, my students ran a series of studies measuring and explaining “hopelessness” [not hope sadly but interesting nonetheless].  They measured “hopelessness” in various groups and NEVER EVER found clinical levels of hoplessness.

Explaining hope and resilience

Moreover, any one person’s sense of hopelessness could be explained by the level of social support they perceived from relevant others.  Here are some interesting results.

  • Wives of unemployed men looked to their churches for support.
  • Teenagers about to leave school after writing their O levels [school certificate/high school] felt more hopeful if they were supported by their families.

And feeling supported by their family was strongly linked to the number of family members having work or income

  • Working men in factories depended heavily on the social support of their supervisors. The mood of employees who were well educated and qualified was very much less affected by their managers

What did we take from these studies (and my little poll)?

  • People are naturally resilient.  They believe the best.
  • Social support is critical.

In hard times, it is very important for the management system to provide support.  This is likely to have a chain effect.  The CEO needs to show belief in his or her direct reports and they need to show belief in their direct reports.

  • Social support outside the firm is also critical and managers can help themselves by supporting external support systems.

Enourage people to remain within churches and sports clubs, help them stay in touch with their families and make it easy for them to do so.  Have we arranged for Hindu employers to have time off for Diwali?  Do we celebrate Eid?  Do we help people take time off for important events?

Collective efficacy, solidarity and business results

It is pretty likely that

  • collective efficacy (expressed belief in the importance and competence of our colleagues) and
  • solidarity (our willingness to support each other through thick-and-thin)

add a critical 5-10% onto our collective performance.

I wonder if there are any practitioners out there who are focussing on these ‘soft’ concepts and linking them to the ‘hard’ results of revenue in hard times?

Here is my original poll.  Thanks so much for contributing.  Despite my experience during other crises, I was still pleasantly surprised that we are so confident.

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What is your plan for beating the recession?

Here is a short 5 question poll for the weekend.  I’ll post the results next week!

Survey sampling

 

Image via Wikipedia

PS If you tick Other, and you have another 30 seconds to spare, could you leave a comment saying what you have in mind?

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Survey sampling

 

Image via Wikipedia

UPDATE:  This poll was in October 2008.  We couldn’t decide whether we were in a recession or not!  That is a good takeaway!  Remember for future downturns how long it takes for people to decide that there is a situation that requires their attention!

Possibly also take note that few people see the economy as something that operates despite our good intentions. It is not enough to tell politicians to do something.  We all have to do something more than just hope for the best.

 

Thanks for dropping in.

Two days ago hopes rose that the ‘fever had broken’ and that we were on the mend, if slowly.  Today, hopes blurred again.

Many firms have been engaged in active scenario planning and have established how they are going to approach what may be a long and difficult economic period.
Would you like to share your experience of the planning process?  Polls on WordPress are new and these are  little untidy.  Do feel free to comment on the questions you think I should be asking in the comments section.

And perhaps bookmark the page so you can check back easily on Monday to see the results.  Have a delicious weekend!

PS If you tick Other, and you have another 30 seconds to spare, could you leave a comment saying what you have in mind?  Fascinating so far!  I hope to invite another 1000 people from various networks to respond over the weekend.  Thanks so much for participating!

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