FSG Blog
June 7, 2012

Scenario Consulting to Go

Peter Kennedy
Managing Principal

What FSG calls “scenario consulting to go” should not be construed as fast, non-substantial inputs into planning. It’s nothing like fast food.  It’s more like a nutritious meal constructed with fresh, healthy ingredients that is relatively easy to assemble and yet delivers substantial, lasting satisfaction. 

We call this “scenario consulting to go” because many organization do not have the executive time and resources to devote to a full-up scenario planning process involving research, market analysis, internal and external interviews, scenario-building work session, and then one or more strategy workshops, followed by implementation planning.

For organization short on staff and long on current challenges, full-up scenario planning can be an impractical life. We get that. And we certainly empathize. Which is why we have developed an accelerated version of scenario planning.  

It’s been said – and it’s still true – that scenario planning is most valuable as a tool to deliver strategic insights for longer-term planning. But in recent years, with the accelerating pace of change (and the increased recognition of such), private sector executives have tended to pass on in-depth strategic exercises in favor of what most would consider to be business planning. FSG believes this is a mistake, and that the need for thinking rigorously about what lies “over the horizon” the corner” is always valuable, especially in turbulent times. But we understand the pressures companies are under, and we sympathize with the plight of executives who are already working 60 to 70 hour weeks just dealing with their current inbox.

Scenario Consulting to Go is basically an accelerated version of our normal scenario planning offering that leverages existing non-proprietary scenario knowledge we have in-house, and therefore saves client time in front-end scenario development — which we acknowledge can be a substantial commitment.

Our To-Go offering is particularly ideal for firms that are not in the market for enterprise-wide strategy, do not intend to build in-house scenario expertise, but do need an alternative futures perspective on a limited set of important business decisions, and in a constrained time-horizon — say a few years out in time, and maybe mostly for risk-managing one or more tactical decisions.

Platform scenarios enabling scenario consulting to-go

In recent years, FSG has been offering what we call platform scenarios based on current or near-term operating conditions or uncertainties. For example, in the run-up to the 2020 election we created a set of scenarios that explored the cross-impacts of the election results and status of the Covid-19 pandemic. We made no predictions; we merely played out, for example, what a Democratic presidency might look like in different coronavirus settings.  We did the same thing for a potential Trump reelection. 

FSG can keep platform scenario frameworks fresh and ready for client use for one simple reason: Scenario planning is what we do for a living. Our ongoing client work keeps us current on what’s happening today and curious about what may be happening tomorrow.  

Customizable to-go scenario frameworks

Now, we don’t pretend that platform scenarios focused on major macro forces for change will provide — by themselves — sufficient resolution for purposes of strategy and planning.  The scenarios are frameworks, after all.  But what makes them useful is that they are infinitely customizable. Users can build on them with scenario characteristic that fit within the macro frameworks, to derive insights into customer behavior, competitive conditions, supply chains and more.

The customization process itself takes some time and thought, but with macro frameworks established it is a considerably more streamlined process. 

Scenario Consulting to Go offers a credible alternative to more involved  scenario planning commitments in part because FSG knows where to cut corners without sacrificing the integrity of the process. 

Give us a shout if you want to learn more about how it can work for you. 

This blog was updated in November 2021. 

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