PlayAhead — Creating Winning Strategies post-lockdown

Every hand is a winner (the Gambler, Kenny Rogers)

Trivium partner, Per Kristiansen, used this quote for an opening line in a blog about strategy making.

In the “Gambler” Kenny Rogers continued:

You got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em Know when to walk away and know when to run

However, for most organizations it is probably hard work to find the winning hand in the Corona pandemic, and close to impossible to know for sure when to hold, when to fold, or when to walk away.

Yet, seizing the future, and creating the next normal is not something that can be postponed until after survival has been secured. It has to happen while survival is being secured.

But how does one do this? So how can an organization make this hand a winner?

In Trivium, we have always been focused on play and planning — not the plan. We have for many years helped our customers to think and strategize ahead — now in the time of crisis — it has never been more important. But resources are scarce, and many organisations are in a high-alert crisis mode.

The future cannot be predicted, this makes it even harder to create the metaphorical winning hand. Therefore, organisations need to be better at seeing the future early, better at creating it, shaping it, and better at being adaptive when meeting the it.

We want to help organisations grow from adverse events by creating strategies that helps create growth no matter the event.

Inspired by a McKinsey article on creating Plan Ahead teams — we have put words to something that we have been doing for years, and that is now more relevant than ever.

Briefly, the article recommends that

* The organization get ahead of the next stage of the Corona Crisis, by

* Launching a Plan-Ahead team focused on the future, and which

* Works across five frames, whilst

* The CEO makes decisions based on the teams reporting.

True to our approach where we put more focus on play and questions, than instructions and plans. Our approach starts with offering three formats for how to PlayAhead. Each format represents a different type of collaboration and involvement, but they call all cover all the five frames

An organisation may move from one format to another as their markets develop, situation changes or more people needs to be involved. Many organisations find themselves in different markets which are in different stages this is naturally mirrored in the type of collaboration. The formats are:

* PlayAhead Coaching

- The Trivium partners act as coach with — and trusted partner to — the decision maker.

- The organisation only involves one person.

- Typically for organisation who are still far from an opening of their markets, or for smaller organisations.

* PlayAhead Advising

- The Trivium partner takes on an active advising role, helps create an internal Ahead Team, supports and spars with the team, and is typically involved in meetings, and analytical work.

- The organisation involves a core team of people who become the PlayAhead Team, members of the team may change over time.

- Typically for organisations who are getting closer to an opening of their market, who are faced with a certain urgency, and larger organisations with more (human) resources.

* PlayAhead Facilitation

- The Trivium partner develops a full process spanning the five frames

- The organisation involves a larger group of people. Participants may differ between workshops.

- Typically for organisations who want to engage and mobilise broadly.

The formats capture the nature of the collaboration, where the frames are the lenses that are looked through to identify the knowledge or preparedness which the organization needs. The frames can be applied with different time horizons, and with different formats

As visualised above, there are five frames to consider

1. Starting Position.

2. Futures — external and internal scenario building?

3. Aspiration & Direction (where do we want to Play?).

4. Action, Moves and Principles.

5. Trigger points & Signposts.

Each of the frames include different interventions. The combination of a frame and a particular intervention can address very immediate challenges, others are more about exploring paths to take when survival is more certain.

A key delivery from Trivium has always been to synchronise knowledge and actions across different domains and areas, this competence will help our clients maximise the impact from each frame. We help develop new knowledge within each frame, and equally important we synchronise the knowledge between the frames to create powerful execution

A PlayAhead collaboration can start as an iterative process focusing on leveraging one frame, and then deciding on a next step, or it can be outlined more comprehensively from day 1.

Why PlayAhead and not Plan Ahead:

Because Play is a natural fertilizer for the brain, so by playing you can create the knowledge that will make your hand a winner

Play helps us handle ambiguity; it prepares us for the future. We can play out possible events, play out gradual changes, play out decisions and actions. Play allows us to go hands-on and see how the world might respond. It is not about getting it fully right, it is about getting a deeper understanding and preparedness.


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Lean Startup, LEGO® Serious Play®,Google Design Sprint e Design Thinking Workshops Organizer, Community Manager, Content Creator, Blogger at StartupItalia