Scenario Planning for Reputation Recovery

July 06, 2009

Scenario Planning for Reputation Recovery

I have posted about scenario planning before and wrote about it in my last book as well.  Scenario planning is a good way to plot what your leadership might do when their reputation falls off a cliff. I have always been fascinated by the process, especially when it works.  In fact, I have a recent Royal Dutch Shell Scenario Planning book that I bought from Amazon about three years ago. I keep it out on my desk as a reminder of a smart way to plan. It was amazing to me that it sold commercially.Today’s WSJ had an article on the return of scenario planning. It was very popular after 9-11 when companies felt the urgent need to prepare for such sudden disasters. Apparently it lost some favor as the economy became bullish and everyone lost their senses. A study by Bain & Co. which I have used in presentations showed that  scenario planning had soared from 1999 to 2002 as a risk management tool (up 30%) among senior executives.  Now it is back on the upswing as we face unprecedented economic challenges.

I did not realize that scenario planning first surfaced in the US Military in the 1950s and became popular with companies such as GE and Shell in the 1970s. My mistake for believing that Royal Dutch Shell was the source.

Peter Schwartz, a partner at the Monitor Group and former head of the Global Business Network where I first learned about him, says that scenario planning is a learning tool and for making informed decisions. Not just a tool for the worst case scenario but a process for learning how to make the right and avoid the wrong decisions. The article ends on an upbeat note – that perhaps scenario planning can be used to plot possible responses to a business upturn.

Same could be said about reputation recovery. Time to start. Never too early. Only too late.

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Leslie Gaines-Ross
Leslie Gaines-Ross
lesliegainesross@gmail.com

As Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist, I focus on the ever changing world of reputation. For the past 25 years, I have relentlessly observed, researched and commented on the rise and fall of reputations.

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