Response Readiness Part Four: Defining opportunities and challenges for future scenarios

01 Dec 2020


To help organisations get ready to respond to the multiple futures that may exist in 2021 and beyond, we have created a 10-step Scenario & Contingency Action Planning process.

In our previous articles we looked at the first four steps:

  1. Defining the entity and its current environment
  2. Identifying the driving forces that could shape the organisation's future·
  3. Identifying the critical uncertainties
  4. Visualising the contrasting outcomes


The fifth step involves selecting the top critical uncertainties and describing the associated scenarios. You may have ended up with a number of critical uncertainties after completing step three, at this stage you need to decide the ones to address first. In determining which are a priority, some factors to consider include:


We recommend you select the top two critical uncertainties to focus on. Using the contrasting outcomes visualised in step four, you should create four scenarios associated with these two critical uncertainties.

For example, a professional services firm has identified two critical uncertainties:


By combining these with the contrasting outcomes visualised, it is able to describe these four scenarios:


Once the scenarios have been identified it is time to move on to step six - Identifying the positives and negatives associated with each scenario and converting these into opportunities and challenges.


Positive & Negative Characteristics

Opportunities & Challenges


The opportunities and challenges will provide the basis for the contingency action plans an organisation needs to develop, so it is ready to respond to each scenario. We will discuss this in detail in the next blog.

Remember, if you don’t identify a potential future, you can’t get ready to respond to it, so you will end up reacting instead. This will reduce your chance of any success, which will also typically come at a higher cost.


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