A lot of smart – and some not-so-smart – consultants have conjured up all sorts of methods for strategic planning. Ones you have probably heard about such as Balanced Scorecard, SWOT Analysis, Gap Planning, and the VRIO Framework are popular variations that most leadership teams can safely use without hurting themselves. So how to decide? If you are hurtling toward a new strategic plan, are you doing it to impress your board with PowerPoint or do you actually want to learn something as a team that you did not already know? Unfortunately, many executives see strategic planning as a means of fashioning a rationale to fit conclusions they have already reached. If that’s you, pick anyone of these tool sets, and go for it. On the other hand, if your mind is wide open and your team is willing to learn and be surprised, you might be ready for a different approach. One that works well if you think your team has the smarts and creativity, is scenario analysis. The process starts with team members brainstorming 25 to 40 “futures” – both positive and scary. They can be grounded along political, environmental, economic, funder, competitor or other criteria.

The overall process (best done with an experienced facilitator) reveals answers that are not “biased” by what your organization is already doing. It’s also an excellent tool because it tends to live well past the conclusion of the exercise and change the way you consider the impact of events on your organization as they unfold. Contact us if this sounds like something you want to learn more about and we would be happy to tell you how this fascinating team approach can work for your organization.