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Scenario planning: why your team should have a plan

​With the disruption of the last few years seemingly behind us, you could be forgiven for thinking that it is business as usual again. In some ways it very much is, however, scenario planning is still at the top of everyone’s agenda.

“Organisations need to have shorter, sharper plans across various talent planning scenarios. The five-year “set and forget strategy” no longer serves a business.”

Watermark Annual Interim Executive Survey

Watermark Search International has been conducting research into the market for over 10 years. The findings of this year’s report show that scenario planning is very much at the forefront, with organisations pushing these conversations and strategising around 4 main disrupters:

  • 58% of respondents chose “finding/retaining the best people” as the number one external disrupter/influence on business strategy 

  • 42% chose “financial/market disruption” (up a significant 23% on this time last year)  

  • 41% chose “post-pandemic organisational transformations”  

  • 42% chose a new answer this year: “fear of change and ‘old way of thinking,’ by leaders”

– Data taken from Watermarks annual interim exec report 2023 – download the full report here.

As we can see, the leaders of your organisation are already honing in on some of the main disrupters, but how does it affect you and your team?


What is scenario planning?

In its most basic form, scenario planning is assessing and analysing potential futures and having a framework on how to deal with these situations, should they arise. This helps decision-making and the business to know which path to take if these possible futures become a reality.

This allows teams to move quickly if plans change. It promotes creative thinking and a better understanding of the overarching goals of the team. If the team is clear on the goal, they can come up with new ways to get there. Scenario planning can have a galvanising effect on a team, improving culture and team building.


What does this mean for your team?

Scenario planning doesn’t need to be the top-line conversation your leaders are having, it can be as simple for your team as planning for budget cuts, losing a team member or strategizing based on what your competition is doing. Essentially you can take any potential situation that will impact your team and work together to plan solutions to this problem.

Here are some common scenarios that we have come across, working within the Finance & Accounting, Payroll, and Technology space:

  • Under/over payments in payroll – In some organisations, Payroll can fall solely on one person. Pulling the whole team together to plan for scenarios in the future can spread the risk and offer another layer of support to the payroll officer.

  • Budget cuts – Bringing the team together to plan for future scenarios can involve discussion on potential budget cuts. By working with the team, you can generate ideas as a group that will create a plan if budgets are cut and potential solutions to avoid budget cuts altogether.

  • Losing a team member - Having a retention plan in place is essential for any team, however, there will always be natural attrition. Knowing what you will do should that irreplaceable team member decide to leave is a smart move. Having an ongoing relationship with a recruiter will mean you don’t waste any time.

  • Digital disruption – We saw the impact of this in a major way over the past few years, but consistently planning for new technologies and potential new/flexible ways of working will keep you on top.

In conclusion

The opportunity to bring the team together to work on scenarios can provide team building and a feeling of belonging within the team. It can also foster open communication, a sense of security and good relationships between your team members. Not to mention a strategy for some of the common (and not-so-common, insert “COVID-19 lockdowns”) issues that may arise.

As the adage goes, “by failing to prepare you are preparing to fail”. Scenario planning can’t predict the future, but it can help in decision-making should those risks arise.


If you would like more information on the above or would like to discuss this topic in more detail, contact our team today.

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