Survival in a Changing World

Survival in a changing world

Changing Priorities: the Route to Survival in a Changing World

Advice from Wendy Smith; Career Coach and author of The WiseWolf Job Search Pocket Book – Wendy’s books on Amazon

Survival in a changing world – people at work are usually too well schooled these days in the arts of time management and setting priorities. Most of us have set SMART goals for a few years now. (If by some chance you haven’t, get in touch I’ll be very glad to pass on the tips.) We know how to sort urgent items from the important things we need to take time to consider and plan.

What many of us seem to be much less good at, though,  is knowing when to let things go and change priorities mid-plan.

Sometimes it is just easier to spend time hacking at trees than to go up in a helicopter so that you can recognise the danger to the forest from the fire on the horizon.

We live and work in a world that is full of changes that no one quite understands. When we plan, it can only ever be on only knowledge of what the future holds. That means we can never create a perfect map to success in the future.

To thrive now we need the ability to re-assess our plans as the terrain changes beneath out feet and the environment changes around us.

For example, a new technological development may be about to revolutionise the way that products or services are delivered to customers in our sector. This might present a threat but if responded to early and with insight it could be an opportunity.

So when you are planning, build in some regular review points for your priorities and have the confidence to change them and how you respond to them. That way lies survival in a changing world.

Other resources for job seekers

In the job market, there are always lots of useful techniques to learn or to refresh. From writing a modern CV to wooing at the interview, you’ll find lots of tips in my handy little pocket-book.

Stress-free Job Search
A concise and practical little workbook. For all who have the courage to go out and learn the new skills necessary to find a job now.

A concise and practical little work book, it is for all who have the courage to go out and learn the new skills necessary to find a job now.

Find this and my other books on my Amazon page at this link;

Remember working with a career coach can really help both  job search and career resilience. Get in touch at the Facing a mid-career dilemmaemail address below – I offer a free half hour trial session by phone or Skype.

Wendy Smith, Career, life and Business Coach

Wendy Smith is a career consultant, life coach and business coach with depth of experience in organisational development, management, coaching and personal development. That experience means she is equally at home helping clients find a new career direction, starting-up new businesses or dealing with life’s more challenging personal issues. 

Need help finding work, with problems at work, at home or with relationships? Book your free 30 minute, no obligation, trial coaching session with Wendy Smith now at this Link 

Falling at the first jump; the real value of a change management process.

There is much to be said for being a flexible organisation willing to embrace change.

Enthusiasm is infectious!

Once you get a taste for change, galloping off to follow a new vision can be very exciting!

But there are risks attached, as the IT industry has learned at some cost!

A basic requirement for formal projects of all kinds is to have a change management process. Built into the arrangements will be a procedure for determining what will be gained but also what will be lost, delayed or made more costly as a result.

This process will require the person proposing the change to identify real benefits and real costs. What is going to be gained but also what is involved in delivering the change.  This procedure will also make quite clear at the start who is to sign off the change, who should be consulted and how the decision should be recorded.

It’s a little bit of governance that the IT industry in particular learned the hard way not to avoid. Without some kind of control over change, IT projects can all too easily spiral out of control. They can become undeliverable or too costly and everyone ends up disappointed.

It is no different really to getting someone in to refit your kitchen and deciding half way through that you’ve decided to change your microwave for a range cooker. Oh, and by the way, you are thinking you might knock down a wall and go open plan!

Sadly some organisations decide to make changes to their structure along the lines of our chums with the kitchen

Someone suggests a change that fires the board or the boss with enthusiasm and off they canter towards the far horizon. Half way there the enthusiasm dies as they realise the real costs and just how difficult it is going to be!

It would be much better to take the time out at the beginning to think things through and take some advice.

It won’t be as enjoyable as just galloping off into the sunset but it will mean there is much more chance of getting somewhere, or at least knowing whether “somewhere” is a place you want to visit!

Have you been part of an organisation that just cantered off?  What was it like for you?  Have you been an IT supplier who struggled to get a client to go through a proper change management process? What happened?

Leading Change – Not Another Version of Wonderland – Scenario Planning Part 2

The White Rabbit in a hurry

If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?” Alice in Alice in Wonderland!

In scenario planning, scenarios provide a way to think about the uncertain aspects of the future particularly those that seem most unsettled and worrying.

Building and using scenarios can help organisations explore what the future might look like and the likely challenges of living in it.

As I explained in my last post a scenario is a story that describes a possible future. But no one view of the future will be correct. So scenario builders create sets of scenarios. These scenarios address the same questions and include everything that is likely to persist from the present into the future.

Each scenario describes a different way that the future might play out.

Scenarios are based on educated guesses and intuition and they need to be supported with very good information and strong analysis!  They are very carefully crafted structures.

But they are written as stories so that they can make that future seem vivid and compelling.  Without that, the real value in determining how the organisation might respond will be lost!

Using graphics, images and illustrations makes scenarios more comprehensible. They are particularly useful when the scenario needs to contain a lot of complex statistical information.

Scenarios  are not predictions – they are a way of dealing with uncertainty but no one has a crystal ball.  Factors will change!   But they provide a way to have a conversation about the future at strategic level.

Scenarios are a way to consider the potential implications of different events.  They mean teams can think through possible responses.

They provide a great way to get a group in the same room and using the same language.  This can be for a possible future or to help with thinking in a common way about current events.

Scenarios support a positive conversation about how to deal with future uncertainties and for making more successful strategic decisions

In my last post I mentioned that Shell has used scenario planning for quite a while! Well they have produced ‘Scenarios: An Explorer’s Guide’ for people who would like to build and use scenarios, and also for those who want to enhance their scenario thinking skills.  I will be providing a very simple guide to scenario planning here on Friday.  But if you wish, you can download the Shell guide at this link.

  • Leading Change – Your Vision in an Uncertain Future – Scenario Planning Part 1 (
  • Is Your Agency Doing Scenario Planning? (
  • Scenarios: mapping the possible (
Wendy Mason is a performance, programme, contract management and change specialist. She works as a consultant, business coach and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you – email her or ring ++44(0)7867681439

Leading Change – Your Vision in an Uncertain Future – Scenario Planning

Image via CrunchBase

Every successful change programme starts with a vision of the future.  But where is your vision going to come from, when the pace of change is continuing to increase?

Scenarios are now widely used by governments, businesses and voluntary organisations to help them plan for the future. This can be done on a large or small scale; as part of a wider planning exercise or on their own as a way to develop thinking inside the organisation.

Scenarios are not simply snapshots but fully fleshed out stories of potential futures.  Each is researched in detail to allow the reader to fully imagine themselves in this future world and consider how they would respond.

Scenario Planning was first used by the Rand Corporation in 1948.

By the 1970s the technique had been further developed and was being used by the Royal Dutch Shell Company.

As faith in traditional planning tools weakened, interest in scenario planning grew stronger.

Both Sam Palmisano at IBM and Steve Jobs at Apple have used scenario planning successfully to help their companies deal with global change and uncertain futures.

Many organisations plan for the future or, at least, for a future that they believe or hope will happen.  Usually, this future is based on ‘best’ or ‘worst’ case projections of current trends.  And surprise, surprise, it often bears an uncanny resemblance to the present state;

  • Customers will continue to do and think as they do now!
  • They will make similar choices to the ones they make now!
  • Supply chains will stay the same!
  • Competitors will offer similar products and services!

So the organisation itself will continue to do more or less the same as it does now!

This approach works best in stable, predictable environments!  But for most of us now, that stable and predictable environment no longer exists!.  We are all facing greater uncertainty and experiencing more change than ever before.

We need an approach that helps us to

  • Make sense of what is going on,
  • Spot new trends and events
  • Prepare for that uncertain future
  • Make changes to what we do and how we work  ,

Scenarios are a tool that we can use to help us imagine and manage the future more effectively.

The scenario process highlights the principal drivers of change and the uncertainties facing organisations today!  It explores how they might play out in the future.

The result is a set of stories that offer alternative views of what the future might look like.

Through discussion, they allow us to explore what we would do differently in each scenario.  Then we can identify success criteria, consider new ways of working and define new relationships.

With each scenario, the factors, and how we might respond to them, will differ!  But we can practice what we might do and begin to plan for it!

The discussion about scenarios can help groups build a shared understanding of how to respond to the increasingly complex changes taking place in the world about us.

The great strength of scenario planning is that it can be used to look at today’s challenges from a different perspective. The process of identifying and examining how current factors and trends might play out in the future helps us focus on the likely impact of those trends on our own organisations.

Quite often, participants find that the impacts are going to be bigger and happen sooner than they had realised.

Ultimately, we can use scenario planning to help anticipate, prepare for or manage change.

I’m going to consider this theme further this week.  But if you have experience of scenario planning and its impact on your organisation, can you share it here please so that others can benefit

Related articles

  • Is Your Agency Doing Scenario Planning? (
  • Rehearsing the future [Guy Rigby] (
  • 4 reasons why an increased pace of change means greater unpredictability (
  • 1o Ways to be Better at Visioning (
  • Kotter Model Step 3: Create a Vision for Change (
Wendy Mason is a performance, programme, contract management and change specialist. She works as a consultant, business coach and blogger. Adept at problem solving, she is a great person to bring in when that one thing you thought was straightforward turns out not to be! If you have a problem talk to Wendy – she can help you – email her or ring ++44(0)7867681439