The Fiction Effect: Plausible Scenarios that Shock

By Mark Vickers

Scenario planning is faddish for a lot of companies, like shorter hair or diagonal tie patterns or wearing watches. It's usually the bad times that bring out the scenario planners.

"It's sort of like flood insurance," Michael Raynor, a Deloitte Consulting LLP corporate-strategy expert, recently told the Wall Street Journal. "Everybody runs out and buys flood insurance the year after the flood" (Tuna, 2009).

It's human nature, of course, to start planning harder for the unexpected only after the unexpected has happened. That occurred after 9/11 and it's happening again in the wake of the harsh global recession.

People are simply stunned by major events. I call it the "Fiction Effect." One day you're plugging along, living your life, working your job, maybe a bit bored by mundane affairs. The next day, something happens that you can barely believe, something that is supposed to occur only in the realm of fiction or long-gone history rather than in your current all-too-real life.

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