“It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.” – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
If ever there was a quote for our times, then this is surely it. Though what you wish to cast as our current dragon may vary, depending on who you are, where you are and, with our rapidly changing situation, which week you are in.
Top candidates for the role of the dragon are Covid and Brexit, but let your eyes wander further afield and the looming unemployment crisis or failures on the high street of top brands and plenty more dragons heave into view.
Like a dystopian pick ‘n’ mix, you don’t have to limit your choice to just one dragon, but can take just about every dragon going, real or imaginary. (The threats may or may not be imaginary, whereas I am rather hoping that the dragon is absolutely imaginary – we have enough worries without actual real-life dragons!)
Some of these dragons are threats, while some may turn out to be real opportunities, although at first glance, unless you are an expert at filling in export documentation, it can be hard to see the upside. But all these dragons need to be discussed by planners to try and unpick what the business ramifications will likely be. But I wonder if you have ever tried to start that planning conversation. How would it actually go? Let me outline an approach.
Book a meeting, obviously a virtual meeting at present, to start the conversation. Call the senior executives together and make sure they know the reason why: to discuss outside influences on your business, and if and how you should plan for them. So far, while a little different from what you have done before, is not too far out there for a step in your planning process.
At said meeting, draw up a list of current dragons (they will all understand, because you sent them a link to this blog, didn’t you?). Make it short in time, with no discussion of the dangers of each dragon. Treat this like a quick brainstorm. You shouldn’t feel the need to go looking for obscure dragons, as you will have enough as it is. If this lasts longer than 5 or 10 minutes you are either a very paranoid bunch, or have been watching too much Game of Thrones.
Categorise each dragon as either having a direct impact on your business or having a secondary impact.
Distribute the dragons. Make sure each dragon has an exec owner, who will report back in X days (Action this day! If it is urgent) focusing on the direct impacts first.
Draw up a plan to address or mitigate any important Dragons, then reforecast to take the other Dragons into account. Other 5 step plans are surely also suitable. My message is really about identifying your dragons and taking action, whether that is taking management decisions or changing your forecasts to accommodate the dragons. Leaving a dragon out of your calculations, should you live near one; well even a Hobbit knows that can be costly.
If you would like to learn more about planning and forecasting, specifically ‘How to Plan in Covid Times’, join us at our event: https://bit.ly/2O2AnRW
If you have any questions about planning and forecasting in the current climate, or any of the tools mentioned in this article, please feel free to speak to us using our live chat, where one of our experts will be happy to speak with you in more detail.
Paul Baron, FP & A Engagement Manager
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