I read an interesting article recently in Influence, the bi-monthly magazine for CIPR members.
It talked, at length, about the importance of ‘scenario planning’ within the profession.
Put simply, scenario planning is considering the future to better manage the present. Rather than flying by the seat of your pants from a communications perspective, it is the adoption of a far more strategic mindset. And, in a world where nobody can predict everything, it at least helps to ensure you are relatively prepared for various eventualities.
There are a number of tools that can aid scenario planning, from widely-recognised formal techniques such as a SWOT analysis, to perhaps more simple methodologies such as customer polls or team brainstorms. Whatever the approach, the key is to uncover insight and data about what could lie around the corner, to influence current thinking and decision making.
Perhaps a previously unidentified threat or opportunity might surface. Maybe the need to recruit will become apparent. It may even seem likely that a competitor has the potential to overshadow your efforts to impress.
Whatever the situation, by creating various plausible pictures of the future, it is possible to home in on knowledge and resource gaps, whilst there’s still time to act.
It could also be argued that by planning for best-case and worst-case scenarios, you’re better equipped to avoid a comms catastrophe.
So is scenario planning the new crisis management?
Well, nothing is ever as daunting or difficult to navigate if you go in prepared. It therefore follows that it’s easier to tackle tricky circumstances if the team know who should do and say what, and when, should a given ‘crisis’ arise.
Of course, we live and work in an uncertain world, where it is impossible to forecast exactly what lies around the corner. A vicious trolling attack on social media, a natural disaster or a HR minefield, for example, could happen at any time. But as Miguel de Cervantes famously said: ‘to be prepared is half the victory’.