Pursuing Globalization and Identifying Contingencies at a Professional Services Firm

When the leadership of a major professional services firm decided to globalize, we offered them a scenario-based planning approach to create a cohesive strategy while helping the new executive group to come together. Over the course of an intense three-day executive workshop, a range of future market conditions was considered and explored. One group of executives was assigned to a scenario world characterized by the collapse of “the New Economy.” (This was before the dot-com meltdown.) The scenario process led to an accelerated schedule of globalization (separate country firms agreeing to first align their goals, and subsequently to form a single global entity); heavy investment in a flexible approach to e-Business and outsourcing activities; and the adoption of an agile organization structure. The scenario approach also led to the development of contingency plans to respond to plausible changes that could occur during the planning horizon. The CEO of the embedded consulting firm found the process so useful that he superimposed it on their planning process, which had already begun. Since then, the process has become a central part of all planning within the firm.