July 31, 2018

What we can learn about planning for the future…from hurricane forecasting?

By: Betsy Simons, Jennifer Ogden

We’ve all seen hurricane prediction maps….those slightly odd-shaped cones that show where the storm is at the present, where it’s likely to go in the near future, and what the ‘cone of possibilities’ is farther out into the future.

We stayed glued to the news, because while we know where the storm is right now, we aren’t exactly sure where it could go.

How do we plan what we do today, in the near future, as well as further down the road when there are so many unknowns? How do we prioritize what we should do when there are so many variables to weigh?

Hurricane path visualization

Planning for the path of a hurricane is an apt metaphor for planning for the paths of our businesses.

Like a hurricane, you know exactly where your business is today and you have a good idea of what to do to get it where it needs to be tomorrow….but you may not definitively be able to say where it could go beyond that.

For many clients and companies, it’s often difficult to separate longer term possibilities and potential opportunities from the more immediate, essential needs of today.

One of our clients recently went through a slew of acquisitions and needed a new positioning, name, and brand for the new company. We shared the hurricane path model in our work sessions as a sorting mechanism to help prioritize the new company’s needs for today, tomorrow and for potential future opportunities.

By creating scenarios for immediate, short term, and longer term needs, we were able to build a new brand that was grounded in today’s business while being elastic enough to accommodate new products being developed which pushed well beyond where the company had ever been.

Seeing the path, even with it’s uncertainties, allowed us to plan for it.

Whether it’s repositioning an entire company, launching a new business unit, or building new products, planning for future as if it were a hurricane is a great way to plan.

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