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January 05, 2009


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CT Karpel

Interesting how your experiences with very highly placed finance executives mirror mine in the decidedly less glamorous world of government contracting. I recently led my executive team through a scenario-based planning exercise for the first time.

First they argued over the framework. Then several of them went wildly off course just to postpone meaningful discussion. After the theatrics, most dismissed the direst of the scenarios as implausible (that's the point, hello!) and then we settled into a groove of "let's keep doing what we have been."

That's when I had to get the cattle prod out and started asking the tough questions. I learned a valuable lesson about scenario planning: you need to have backup data handy in order to show executives why they need to think differently about the future.

By showing them why we needed to respond to our markets and customers with one eye several years out and the other on current financials, they responded with some value-added ideas. I believe the exercise was a success, and I'll do it again next year.

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