Guide to Scenario Planning for Functional Leaders

Look to the future to make decisions today

New urgency for scenario planning at the functional level

Scenario planning is common at the organizational level to make strategic plans more robust and resilient. In today’s uncertain times, scenario planning is equally critical at the functional level. Functional leaders who successfully incorporate scenario planning into their planning processes  can make small but powerful changes to prepare their own teams to act on the risk and opportunities that come from volatility. 

Functional leaders must be ready to contribute to enterprise scenario planning and run their own. Key questions to ask:

  • What should I know about enterprise scenario planning? 
  • How do I contribute to enterprise scenario planning?
  • How does scenario planning work differently at the functional level?
  • How do I turn scenarios into action plans for my function?

Download the guide and template and get ready for functional scenario planning.

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    Additional Scenario Planning Questions Gartner Can Help Answer

    Scenario planning is a strategic planning tool useful for revealing the critical uncertainties, risks and opportunities of multiple potential future states. By creating hypothetical views of what the future may entail, scenario planning helps organizations build resilience to shifts in the business environment by negotiating a path between the false certainty of a single possible outcome and paralysis by analysis.

    The objective of scenario planning is to secure the best immediate outcome while preparing suitable alternative action plans to enact, depending on how a situation unfolds. Proactively agreeing on both near-term operational decisions and long-term strategic plans will reduce the time it takes an organization to respond to emerging risks and opportunities. This can help the organization preempt, rather than reactively control for, the negative effects of a major event or disruption.

    The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a wide range of planning activities that aim to recover the enterprise from the pandemic in the midterm and renew it in the long term. A range of Gartner research shows that especially during disrupted times, agile decision making and strategy setting result in outsized performance — and establish a lead over the competition that sustains long after the initial disruption. Strategic scenario planning facilitates agile strategy setting and provides a framework and process to examine possible futures.

    Scenario planning is often used to augment strategic planning processes. Scenarios enable you to determine suitable action plans or strategies for different possible futures — so reveal how to react to a specific future and which set of actions would make sense no matter what conditions ultimately unfold. The scenarios’ underlying assumptions are themselves helpful to corroborate or challenge strategies and to keep them current.