Monday, April 23, 2018

Step Four: Discussing the Strategic Implications, Part 2

Two weeks ago, in Step Four: Discussing the Strategic Implications, I continued a description of a Scenario Planning exercise my Board chair and I decided to conduct at our most recently completed Board meeting. I ended the previous post with a comment that the only thing left to discuss was the process by which we'll determine which future is actually occurring.

I promised to address that in this, the next post in this series, but I need to come clean about something. Having led my Board through this exercise and now having created four compelling versions of our industry's future, I don't in fact know how we're going to determine which of those futures is actually starting to occur.

I know how I think we're going to do it. Or, at least, I've come up with a proposal for how we might do it. Prior to our next and each future Board meeting, we’ll survey our Board members on the indicators that define each of the future scenarios. For each indicator, we'll ask each Board member to select the descriptions they believe most likely to be true for our industry in 2023.

For example, we've called one of our indicators "IoT Products," and it has the following two possible descriptions: (1) The growth of fluid power products with IoT connectivity has kept up with or outpaced that of competing technologies; OR (2) The growth of fluid power products with IoT connectivity has fallen behind that of competing technologies. One of those descriptions will be true in 2023. Each Board member will have to read their own tea leaves and determine which they think will likely be true in that future year.

We’ll then use all these responses to create a chart like the one shown below.

The Xs represent the majority of votes by the Board for each of the 19 indicators that they themselves defined. In this example, most of the votes are on the "Benefits" side of the Internet of Things megatrend and on the "Easier" side of the Workforce megatrend. That would mean that we seem to be heading towards Scenario C, and the Board can then review the contingency plan for that scenario, update it if necessary, and, if deemed prudent, could choose the necessary actions for our association to take.

That's the proposal. But it has problems. Even in the example shown above, the opinions of the Board are not unified. Not every answer points to the "Benefits" side of Internet of Things or the "Easier" side of Workforce. Some indicators seem to be pointing in the other direction, as, I believe, they inevitably will. The future scenarios that the indicators described are complex, but idealized ones. The real future is much more likely to be messy, in which some of our indicators point one way and others point the opposite way. If the way forward doesn't clearly point to one of our scenarios, which part of which contingency plans are we supposed to activate?

How we're going to resolve this, or how we're going to deal with it if it can't be resolved, is not clear at this time. In an initial discussion with my Board chair, we thought that reducing the number of or at least prioritizing the indicators might help -- essentially giving the Board fewer possible divergent paths to walk down. I'm not sure that is the answer, and neither is he.

You'll have to stay tuned. We're just starting to plan for our next Board meeting in June 2018, where this issue will be tackled in one way or another. I'll be sure to continue this series as our revised plan unfolds, and especially as our Board grapples with it.

+ + +

This post first appeared on Eric Lanke's blog, an association executive and author. You can follow him on Twitter @ericlanke or contact him at

Image Source

No comments:

Post a Comment