How to learn from the unknown?

agile, blog

Imagine a fortune teller would have told you in 2019 that you would be very excited about a trip to the local garden center, no friends would come within 2 meters of you, you would wear a mask when going to a shop or bank, and you would have to stay inside for many months. Maybe you would think you become a bank robber… but the fortune teller was definitely a liar. We know better today; the fortune teller was right.

  • What if I would tell you in the summer of 2021, the internet will be down for six months?
  • What if I would say you will get five times more customers than in 2019?
  • What if you would lose all access to all cloud services you use?

If we learned one thing in 2020, the future can always surprise us. Not a small surprise but big surprises. Good surprises and bad surprises.

I read the book The Living Company of Arie de Geus last summer. An excellent book, I really recommend you to read this book. One of the things he talks about is scenario planning. Think about multiple scenarios for the future, and look at what the impact can be for your organization.

My tip is: organize an Extreme Scenario Planning Workshop. Think of three scenarios that will never happen to you. Aliens are invading your country, no internet for months, or people all over the world reaching out for your services. The scenarios can be bad but also good scenarios.

The first step is to identify a possible scenario. If this happens, what will impact you, your environment, your stakeholders, etc. Mark them as good, bad, or neutral. If it is bad, what would be the perfect counter activity? What would be needed today to get that activity in place? If it is good, what would you do to realize it anyway? What could be an action today to get the good impact realized? Which activities would you like to execute? Is there budget, commitment, knowledge in the organization? If there is one thing we learned in 2020, the unexpected can happen!

What will you do to prepare for the unknown that can happen?

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