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How soon is now? Scenario planning for a post-pandemic future

The pandemic has shake many businesses to the core. How can firms prepare for the next big, bad thing? Try this new book out for the answers.

The pandemic has shake many businesses to the core. How can firms prepare for the next big, bad thing? Try this new book out for the answers.
The pandemic has shake many businesses to the core. How can firms prepare for the next big, bad thing? Try this new book out for the answers.

A new book has been issued titled Disaster Proof: Scenario Planning for a Post-Pandemic Future. The book has been written by Lance Mortlock.

As the vaccine rollout marches on and borders and businesses begin re-opening, every entrepreneur, small to midsize enterprise and global behemoth in the world is currently confronted with the same fact: they have no idea what the post-pandemic future is going to look like.

The past year has fundamentally disrupted many if not most business models, and the landscape of VUCA — volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity – created by COVID-19 is not going to fade away quickly. This means that the levels of disruption and change will be constant for a period of time.

What happens the next time  major incident strikes? The question Mortlock sets out to answer is based on the lines “how do we plan for a future we can’t predict?”

In addressing this, Disaster Proof take a powerful tool that is in use by the world’s leading corporations (and has been for several decades). This tool is scenario planning.

Taking scenario planning as the base, this useful book offers a practical and immediately actionable guide to this urgent and oft-overlooked aspect of strategy.

The types of themes captured in the pages of Disaster Proof are:

  • The data and trends from the past 50 years of crisis, such as the OPEC Oil Price Shock of 1973, the Tequila Crisis of 1994, and the Dot-com bubble of 2000. This is to inform the reader about what to expect next after COVID-19.
  • The book also provides real-life case studies of scenario planning’s greatest successes, such as in post-Apartheid South Africa and the National Health Service in the UK, and considers at the missed opportunity of earlier pandemic simulations which could have changed the global response to COVID-19.

After presenting these types of examples, the book provides a six-step path to implementing a scenario plan at any scale. Behind the plan is research, including high-level management theory and supported by real-world examples around the scenario planning theme. As Mortlock puts it, the aim is to “help build shock absorbers and a more resilient business.”

Elements of the six-step path are drawn from the history of scenario planning, including how this was originally conceived in the military in the form of “war games.” Later, this approach was adopted and reinvented by Shell, Anglo American and other large firms

There is also a future technological state as well, since the approach to scenario planning can be bolstered by artificial intelligence, including machine learning, to help leaders to process vast volumes of information and make smarter, faster decisions.

The book  – Disaster Proof: Scenario Planning for a Post-Pandemic Futurewas published on May 5, 2021 by Barlow Books.

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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