How to plan for the future when everything is uncertain

Updated: Oct 8, 2020

Years ago, my brother Jonathan lived through a serious earthquake in North America, and I remember him saying to me afterwards – it’s hard to get back to normal when you can no longer trust the ground beneath your feet.

I’m hearing friends and colleagues say similar things about planning now. There is so much uncertainty about where we can go and how we will work, so they feel it's too hard to do any planning beyond the immediate.

So, here’s one mini-planning exercise you can do with your team to help move forward, even in the midst of uncertainty.

Use this mini-plan exercise to identify some 

positive next steps

1. Remind yourselves of your long-term mission and confirm - is that still ultimately what you want to achieve? (If the answer is no, we need to have a longer conversation!) 2. Map out one best case and one worst case scenario that your organisation may be operating in over the next 6 – 12 months. For example best case might be zero community transmission across Australia or a vaccine becoming available sooner than expected; worst case might be rising infections and continuing restrictions. 3. Now for each scenario, write a list of what needs to go right (enablers) and what might stop you (hurdles) achieving your goals. 4. Compare the most important enablers and hurdles for each scenario, and identify the significant enablers and hurdles that are common across both scenarios. 5. Focus on the most important enablers and hurdles common to both scenarios and decide 3 things you can do in the next 3 months to either maximise the enablers or overcome the hurdles. Then agree the first next steps to take action on each of these three things.

You may not be in a position to confirm your long-term strategy right now but after this process you will have 3 things to focus on in the short-term that will get you closer to achieving your long-term objectives.

None of us can control the ground beneath our feet at the moment, but together we can take some small, positive steps forward.

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