More than ever, people are expressing their frustration to me about being able to do any strategic planning amidst all the unknowns. Granted, I have been talking a lot with friends who work in the Healthcare and Education fields and I do acknowledge there’s more uncertainty in those spaces than ever. But that’s not a reason to give up – there are definitely tactics that can help prepare strategically for alternate and undefined futures.

Jim and I did a lot of work in the late ’90s with utilities companies in Texas preparing for deregulation. I still remember our first project where the partner walked in and said, “okay, guys, we need to help our client prepare to create and spin out a Retail company. And we have no idea what that means yet.” At that point, none of the rules and regulations had been defined for how deregulation was going to work in Texas, but we had to make some intelligent assumptions and start preparing or we were never going to be able to split all of their technology into two companies a few years time.

The best advice I have for people dealing with so much uncertainty is a proven tactic: scenario planning. I wrote a blog on this a while back. And there’s a great overview here on Wikipedia. Basically, you want to define all the uncertainties and narrow down to a couple of dimensions of uncertainty to define alternative futures. Then test your plans against those alternative futures.

Please dive in if you’ve had successes or challenges with scenario planning in your organization