Over the last few weeks it’s funny how certain phrases start to rise to the top of the noise.Three phrases have jumped out at me, economic recovery, behavioural economics and scenario planning. In one sense it’s not suprising, we all want to know the future is better, it has to be!

Economic recovery appeared in Google search results 6,991 times in January, 7831 times in February and in the first week in May – 24,443 times. Another two I predict will gather momentum as well – Behavioural Economics and Scenario Planning. The new book Animal Spirits will propel behavioural economics into the spotlight arguing that our ideas and feelings about the economy embodied in our “sentiment” drives economic growth. But it’s the last phrase Scenario Planning that is having a renaissance. I was involved in two major exercises in the 80s with Thomson and in the 90s with Shell building stronger businesses using this technique. For the un-initiated, the technique involves building a detailed picture of several possible future worlds in which your company will play in! It is not a prediction of the future. That would be to miss the point. It is a set of stress tests to determine what gaps , skills, products, resources exist in the current business to make it more robust going forward.

e.g. in the Thomson example the result of the exercise demonstrated how badly prepared we were for an advertising slump and what we needed to do to lessen our dependencies. Several years later, the advertising slump came but we had already sold the division for a premium price by then!
Small and large companies would benefit greatly in this current marketplace from using Scenario Planning to deliver revised policies for their businesses that are comprehensive, rigorous, forward looking and highly collaborative.