Opening minds ... thinking differently

Strategy is ultimately an expression of collective mental models.  To create a strategy that is more than ‘mere incrementalism’ we must therefore create new mental models.  But the idea that people can just 'think differently' is delusional.  We need build into our strategy processes something that makes this real.  

Scenario planning is one such tool.  It exposes us to alternate plausible futures which we ‘experience’ through the scenario narrative: it is through storytelling that we make sense of events.  And in turn it is this ‘experience’ that shifts our mental models.

What are the possible triggers for using scenario thinking?  And does the evidence support the notion that scenarios are more than just a neat story telling trick?

DDB ... a strategist's view

Read More

Brexit surprised. Trump shocked. A strategist’s view

I am often asked: ‘when should you conduct a major strategic review’?  There are various catalysts for a deeper strategic review: a new CEO; serial underperformance; business model disruption; major external shocks.  Brexit should have been a catalyst for a process of deeper strategic reflection within most enterprises.  Post the Brexit decision if you weren’t running scenarios which contemplate a Trump presidency as part of a broader geopolitical shift you were gambling on a status quo potentially under threat.  The next step in that narrative has now unfolded.  Post Brexit it was no great stretch to imagine a Trump presidency. 

But what does this mean for business?  The reality is no-one knows. But in a VUCA world, scenario planning is the best tool to prepare your organisation for what may lay ahead. 

Note: this is a slightly longer blog than usual (ca. 5 mins)

Read More

The cost of presumptions - international case studies

At their most dangerous presumptions are assumptions that are accepted as a ‘social fact’.  This makes them more dangerous than assumptions.  Assumptions should be explicitly identified and can be tested.  But we remain blind to our own presumptions. 

The risk of presumptions is everywhere around us in the age of disruption, but it exists also in other areas.  Shell lost control of a major project in Russia; Tata had to move the Nano car plant weeks before commissioning.  

Presumptions in both cases turned out to be a very costly.  

What can you do to reduce the unanticipated risk of presumptions?

Read More