January 12, 2017
We were originally invited to run a ‘war-gaming’ session, to lead a global strategy team from around the world through a scenario workshop during their annual meet-up. We challenged this, to discover that the need wasn’t so much to learn how to deal with one given scenario (traditional business ‘war-gaming’ centres on playing out one scenario across days), but instead make the business more ready for the many different scenarios which could potentially emerge in the many markets in which the business operates.
Therefore, we suggested a change in frame for the activity. It was less like playing Risk (one long board game where you’re locked in tactical responses to an ongoing scenario), and more like playing Poker (multiple fast hands, where the situations and strategies required keep changing).
To this end, we researched, designed, and produced a Future Strategy Game specifically for Experian.
Each team would turn over a card from three separate decks, which would set the ‘conditions’ for the future scenario in which they were working. The three cards represented a macro-trend, a specific competitor who currently or may play in the same sector, and an action that competitor might take. Each small team then had thirty minutes to describe that future, define an initial strategy for it, and identify their first three actions as a result. Then they’d deal another hand, and the world would change again…
What we created in the workshop was a wall of 20+ different scenarios, and their associated strategies and tactics, which could then be used not just as templates for what to think about should some scenarios emerge (which, after the workshop, they started to), but also a way to look at a whole collection of possible scenarios, and start to establish what were the pressing concerns for the business which were a feature of a significant number of the possible scenarios.
Finally, the game itself was designed to evolve internally too; as well as the pre-populated cards drawn from our research, we included a set of blanks which would allow the teams around the world to keep adding in new emergent factors, and develop their own localised version of the games.
Partners: Mark Earls (Herd), Scott Smith (Changeist), James Wallis (Spaaace)