As with most things that I watch, or participate in, I like to learn something from the experience.
Tonight, whilst watching the Uruguay vs Portugal match I was comparing the set pieces that the teams have prepared with the idea of scenario planning in business. For many businesses scenario planning is something that is in the domain of strategic work and is for executives only. This isn't accurate of course and applying the idea of scenario planning to your operational activities is a great way to drive up your operational performance when the going gets tough.
In football their scenario plans (or, set pieces) are carefully considered. When a certain situation faces a team they can then choose to enact one of their set pieces, hopefully increasing their chances of success. The key point is that these set pieces have been thought about in advance.
In business, most teams walk into the sticky stuff, wonder how it has all happened and then complain about the situation. There is no preparation for this situation, no consideration of how best to tackle this combination of events and performance usually wanes until the 'good old days' return (which may return in minutes, days, weeks or never!).
Scenario planning is usually about optimisation. In my experience it is unlikely that the precise scenario that you plan for will appear, but you will have developed something that you can apply that will give you the best outcome. It is like giving your business gears; some gears are good for going uphill and some are good for economy / fuel consumption. I have clients that are able to flex their team and their approach rapidly because they have thought through the implications of regular scenarios that affect their business (staff reductions, order overload etc...) and they have the performance gains to show that this kind of thinking is useful.
If football teams thinking about scenarios works for them, why couldn't the same approach add value to your business? Scenarios need to be thought out in advance and discussed enough that people know what to do when the time comes, even a visible flowchart detailing the options in the office can work well for most businesses.
If you want the best chance for your teams to win, and the working environment is not consistently perfect, this something worth thinking about.
All the best,
About the author Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who specialises in helping businesses to grow and improve through better business processes. Giles is also the author of Business Process Re-Engineering and creator of the 'Making It Happen' continuous improvement toolkit.