Monday, June 4, 2018

Step Four: Discussing the Strategic Implications, Part 4

Two weeks ago, in Step Four: Discussing the Strategic Implications, Part 3, 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 I would reveal in a future post the second decision we had made to help our Board focus their discussion on the strategic implications of our four scenarios at our upcoming Board meeting.

The first decision, as revealed in that previous post, was to prioritize the indicators that defined each of our scenarios so that we didn't need to immediately review or assess them all to understand which of the four possible scenarios our industry was heading towards.

We expect that the second decision will have an even more drastic scope-limiting effect on our future discussion. In making it, we recognize that although our prioritized set of indicators should help us monitor our environment and determine which the four scenarios is likely coming true for our industry, the indicators themselves do nothing to help us decide which of the four scenarios we would like to see come true for our industry. Just because one scenario is most likely, that doesn't mean that is the same scenario that is most preferred.

Remember that our four scenarios were derived by combining the two possible future outcomes of each of our two megatrends in all of their possible configurations. Since each megatrend could result in one future that is positive for our industry and one that is negative, that means that of the four possible scenarios, only one of them would be "super positive" for our industry -- that is, the one in which both of the positive futures of the two megatrends come true.

Here's the chart that illustrates this dynamic with our four scenarios again:

Now, regardless of which of these four scenarios is deemed most likely, is anyone at our Board table going to argue that Scenario A, the one we branded as "Connected Growth", the one in which our industry benefits from both of the selected megatrends -- is anyone going to argue that that isn't the scenario that, if possible, our association should work to help create for our industry?

We don't think so. Therefore, when it comes to discussing the strategic implications of the four scenarios, we believe that it may make sense to first discuss what our organization can or should be doing to serve our members in Scenario A.

This was the second decision we made to help focus our Board's discussion and attention. We will not, as described earlier, develop different strategic action plans for each of the four scenarios, and then wait for the evidence of our indicators to tell us which of those scenarios is coming true and which of our action plans should be activated. Instead, we will intentionally select the scenario that would best serve our industry, and then discuss the actions that our association will take to help make that scenario a reality.

How we frame that discussion will be the subject of my next post in this series.

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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

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