Scenario Planning Coronavirus
Suddenly, the future is here.
Scenario planning coronavirus will be a challenge. But for almost two decades, FSG has been creating alternative future scenarios to help leaders grapple with complex change brought about by the convergence of powerful forces — demographics, technology, regulations, globalization, climate change, and yes, global pandemics, too, as our colleague Joe DuFresne has chronicled in a recent article he posted on Medium.
In classic scenario planning, the job is to look beyond the present situation and imagine future operating environments at least five years out but very often 10- and even 20-plus years into the future. That futures perspective is not to postpone action for some later date but to use the future as a lens or forcing function to reassess current direction and make necessary course corrections today. The key thing is that without that over-the-horizon perspective, planners risk missing both hidden disruptions and unexpected upsides. They remain blinded by the tyranny of the present.
But scenario planning coronavirus? The crisis upsets the conventional scenario planning timeline. It is an example of those rare, once-a-century events that reshuffle our assumptions about what will be important in the future and how we will cope. With uncertainty rife, everything – almost everything, anyway – gets reset in a more compressed planning horizon.
Which brings us to April 2020. FSG is committed to illuminating what the world could look like when the immediate Covid-19 crisis has passed. To help with scenario planning coronavirus we have created a set of post-virus scenario foundations that describe a range of different coronavirus impacts on the economy, business, politics, global relations, work, lifestyle and more. This 2022 scenario tool will be continuously updated and is customizable across sectors and industries. Please contact us for additional information.
We will continue to comment on coronavirus scenario challenges on these blog pages. These are extraordinarily uncertain times – the ripest and yet the most challenging conditions for doing scenario planning.
In case you missed it…
In his recent piece published on Medium titled “What 2035 Can Teach Us About Pandemic Management” FSG associate Joe DuFresne relates his experience as a Coast Guard officer preparing for a coronavirus-like event. It’s a great, real-life case study of scenario planning’s practical contributions to foresight at the Coast Guard. Here are a few morsels:
As a strategic analyst I was charged with the Coast Guard’s alternative futures program known as Project Evergreen. That project led to my introduction to Futures Strategy Group and their alternative futures process (and with whom I am now associated). The pandemic-laden scenario above was one of five Project Evergreen scenarios. This set of alternative future scenarios allowed the Coast Guard to unfreeze, or at least greatly expand the boundary conditions for future uncertainty and think laterally across multiple domains (politics, economy, society, technology, infrastructure) and across a range of plausible future operating environments.
Among many other insights, that analysis led the Coast Guard to rethink how it approached partnership. While partnering itself is not a strategy, Evergreen recognized that the growing complexity of events in and around the maritime domain (terrorist threats, technological disruptions, climate change impacts, pandemics, etc.), significantly amplified the demand for integrated, multidimensional planning and response. It identified that the Coast Guard needed a persistent approach to partnering at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels, and most importantly, beyond what most in the service would define as traditional partners.
When I was an operational commander at Coast Guard Sector North Carolina in 2016, we faced Ebola as the pandemic threat-du-jour. We decided to build out and exercise a rarely touched annex to the Area Maritime Security Plan known as the Maritime Communicable Disease Plan. The plan is intended to address public health threats delivered by a vessel. The stakeholders included the usual suspects from the Area Maritime Security Committee (Coast Guard, shipping companies, NC Port Authority, DHS, ship pilots, Army Corps of Engineers, law enforcement), but public health was not a familiar topic for us. So the team was expanded to include CDC, HHS, NC Division of Public Health, regional hospitals, and EMS. The amount of knowledge shared across this multidisciplinary team, comprised mostly of members who had never worked together before, was fascinating and exciting. As is usually the case in an incident management Unified Command, the team was stronger than the sum of its parts.