- IMD Business School

Scenario planning for a post-COVID-19 world

18 pages
May 2020

The COVID-19 virus is sweeping across the world, leaving a trail of economic and social damage in its wake. Forward thinking organizations are starting to plan for a post-COVID-19 world. However, predicting what this world will look like is not easy. We can be reasonably sure that the world will not simply revert back to the way it was before the crisis, but what will be different? The problem with answering this question is that recent history does not provide us with any points of reference to learn from. The world has simply never faced a crisis like this one before. And yet, while it may not be possible to predict the post COVID-19 landscape, it is still possible to plan for it.

Scenario planning is a tool designed to help organizations plan for uncertain futures. It has been used extensively by organizations whose performance is vulnerable to major economic, social, political, and environmental shifts, such as the oil and gas industry. COVID-19 has placed all sectors within this context of uncertainty, requiring them to think and plan in new ways.

Scenarios do not attempt to predict the future, but rather identify a set of possible future states. They focus on the external driving forces over which individual organizations have little or no control. Scenarios are both plausible and challenging. Organizations benefit from scenario planning by imagining how they might compete in each scenario. This process helps them widen their thinking around possible responses and outcomes. For example, some responses may not have been considered if the scenario planning process hadn’t been followed. Other responses become clearer and more obvious as they are identified across multiple scenarios.

In this report, we have created a set of plausible scenarios for the world after COVID-19, and provided guidelines for how these scenarios can be used in a workshop format to help prepare for a very uncertain future. Scenario planning workshops are relevant for organizations wishing to develop proactive strategies for dealing with the pandemic.


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