As leaders we have to anticipate. Anticipate Customer reaction, Board member expectations, scenarios of business outcomes.
We make our assumptions based on the best information and experience of our team and then we execute. But when we plan, make assumptions and begin to deploy our business plan, we also have to scenario model that unanticipated events will occur. Will occur, not may occur.
And therefore we anticipate potential scenarios and think through them, at times prepare for them. When our operating assumptions don’t hit, we must be prepared to act, to recover.
But there is a fine line between anticipation and worrying.
Often I see leaders worry about what the customer’s reaction will be. Worry that they made the wrong product decision. Doubt begins to creep in.
Scenario modeling is not about responding to doubt. Once we make our best operating assumptions we have to be committed to the plan; if things start to go awry, or if certain assumptions don’t look like they will foot completely, we have the preparation and capability to react quickly.
Worry paralyzes. Doubt paralyzes. And it is contagious.
The other day I was speaking to an entrepreneur about a well-thought out presentation he was making to the board. The presentation would require a new investment round. It was comprehensive and he was ready. And preliminary meetings suggested there was strong board support. Then he began to second-guess ten different ways that the board meeting could go wrong and he wanted to develop scenarios against them. Everything from “this is the first investment they have made in this sector and do they really support it?” to “What if they don’t want to introduce us to new investors?.
These were not scenario modeling questions (eg If they ask about whether the product will do x in the first release….). These were self-doubt questions that went beyond the objective of the meeting.
It is normal to doubt. The Entrepreneur journey is a long one, and it is usually an all-in game. It is normal to have those moments.
But we have to have the awareness to understand the difference between scenario modeling business assumptions and worrying about the decisions we have made.