Scenario Gaming: How Resilient 
 Is Your Product Strategy?

By JANA PAULECH

Strategic resilience as a topic has been cemented high on every board’s agenda thanks to the pandemic and widespread geopolitical risks (McKinsey global survey, 2021). With the rapid rise of technology, resilience is also key in the planning of technology and digital strategies by CTOs and tech leaders.

However, the topic of product strategy resilience rarely if ever surfaces when talking to product leaders about their product strategies. This is despite being one of the biggest detractors to creating big, bold, long-term product strategy.

One of the most common ailments espoused by product functions is their inability to consider the long term. Why consider that when things change so fast?

“Our market changes, our regulatory environment changes, and our business priorities change. We can’t create a long-term strategy with all this change and, if we try, we’ll just have to throw it out and start all over again.”

This thinking is symptomatic of ‘fragile’ strategy – a strategy that does not consider change in its inception, and therefore really only ever plans to change the plan.

Moving beyond ‘fragile’ strategy towards ‘resilient’ strategy means that product leaders consider change not as a possibility, but as a certainty. Change is our constant companion, and therefore must be included in our strategy along with all the other usual suspects – competitors, market, customers, business priorities, risks etc.

Scenario gaming invites strategy makers to identify and create likely scenarios.

They then ‘game’ those scenarios out to consider what could be done differently. From these insights, we create a strategy that can rapidly adapt to change.

When we consider strategic resilience in our product strategies it will not only help us chart more transformative horizon three destinations, but also elevate the level and gravitas for the discussion of our horizon one and two strategies to the board-level concerns of strategic resilience.

One of the most useful techniques for developing a change-resilient product strategy is scenario gaming.

This technique invites strategy makers to identify and create likely scenarios that may eventuate, and that would have material and rapid impact on the organisation and product. They then ‘game’ those scenarios out to consider what could be done differently.

By combining the insights of many scenarios into the product strategy, we create a strategy that can rapidly adapt to change.

To find out more about scenario gaming and the Brainmates ‘Identify > Game > Adapt’ framework for scenario gaming, you can watch the video below.

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About The Author

Jana Paulech

Principal Consultant & Strategy Lead - Brainmates

Jana is an intellectually curious problem solver who’s super power is seeing the connections across diverse problems and industries. With a background in academic research and education, Jana received her Ph.D. at the University of Sydney, before moving into corporate advisory and product management across consulting and technology.

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