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Scenario Planning - Successful Contingency Planning

  1. Issue identification:
    What is it that happens (perhaps on a recurrent basis) that needs to be resolved
  2. Identify the variables that cause the issue to occur:
    Usually only a few things really make the difference.  As per the 80/20 rule, we need to identify which (few) variables really make a difference regarding the issue we identified.  What are the primary causes of this?
  3. Develop a list of "alternate outcomes" for each variable (Think through this step well):
    For each variable (identified in step 2), try to brainstorm a list of how it may possibly materialize (occur). What are the range of possibilities for each variable?  Identify as many alternate outcomes for each variable as you can. Number them.
  4. Consider the implications for each alternate outcome:
    Consider the reality that each of the "alternate outcomes" (from step #3) may emerge
    1. Probability:
      Identify, for each, what we feel is the probability for it to actually occur. 
    2. Plans and action:
      Then, for each, consider how we should perhaps change our plans, and which actions we may need to take, assuming that it may occur. 
    3. Best choice:
      After we have estimated the probabilities, effects on our plans, and appropriate actions to take for each, then we need to assess which (step "B") may be the most acceptable action plan for us.  This may help guide us as we react to any given situation.
  5. Identify "early warning" signals and watch for them:
    For each alternate outcome (from step #3) identify an early warning and measurement system.
    1. Early warning indicators:
      Identify, for each alternate outcome, occurrences that can be observed.  Consider (for each alternate outcome) what we might be able to notice, early on, that may warn us that it may actually occur.  What are the subtle indicators that may help us predict that something may happen in the future?
    2. Measurement systems:
      How can we enhance our measurement systems so that we are constantly monitoring the "early warning indicators"?  Once a measurement system is in place, we can be confident that we are sensitive to appropriate indicators, and that we are consistently scanning for them.  This foresight can help us to notice potential problems in their early stages, and execute contingency plans based on thoughtful consideration of potential outcomes.

To put this into action, consider using this form (PDF document): LINK

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