What’s going to happen after our local economy mostly reopens? Everybody has a prediction, but nobody knows for sure. We can only guess how things will play out during the rest of this year and the next. Your guesses are actually valuable. Organize them to help you think through high, medium and low future scenarios. Then, create strategies for each scenario so you’re well prepared for an uncertain future. Here’s how to do it.

Think in three time periods—we’ll use Red Phase for the time we’re in Shelter-in-Place (SIP), Yellow Phase for an Assessment period and Green Phase for the New Future. Think about each of these time periods and plan your company’s actions based on an Optimistic, Mid-Range and Pessimistic view of key environmental factors.

Red Phase – During SIP
Themes: Cost Control, Scenario Planning, Customer Value-Add and Change Ideas

  1. Control costs immediately to better align with a revenue drop.
  2. Use the My Company’s Scenario Table as a planning tool. Divide the future into three time periods. For each one, write an Optimistic, Most Likely and Pessimistic summary of what it will be like for our economy, your customers and your team. Then, for each scenario, project your average monthly revenue and list your operational responses. As time passes, you’ll know more and return to this table to update your writing.
  3. Start a list of Customer Value-Add Ideas. What extra value can you provide for some or all of your customers? What would each cost to deliver in time and money?
  4. Start a list of Change Ideas for New Operations. Review your summaries about your customers, your team and your revenue. Since you want to maintain or improve profitability in the New Future, you need to create a new way of operating that allows you to do this in each of the scenarios. Start your list of ideas to streamline and cut costs. Do more with less. How can you use technologies, outsource services or use contractors to help get you there?


Yellow Phase – Starts after SIP is mostly lifted and lasts 30 to 90 days
Themes: Assess Environment and Update Scenario Planning, Test Value-Add Ideas

  1. During this short, post-SIP assessment period, you’ll make observations. Assess your environment. Talk to your customers. Listen to their stories and their view of the future. Update the My Company’s Scenario Table accordingly.
  2. You’ll begin to have a sense of your local economy and how it may recover. Use your Customer Value-Add Ideas list. Implement everything that doesn’t require a significant investment. Run small tests with existing or new potential customers and see how they react to these value-adds. For any idea that would require a big investment to deliver, see if you can strip it down and run a small test. Are there any winners? Should you be providing new services? Start to solidify your Value-Add list to plan for future creation and execution.
  3. How’s your team doing? Are they adapting well to new health safety procedures? If you find yourself in a Pessimistic scenario, which team members would you need to lay off or cut their hours? Can your staff fully handle customers’ needs in an Optimistic scenario? Do you need to train your team to implement new customer value-add ideas?

Green Phase
– Starts after Assessment, after you’ve chosen an environment scenario
Themes: Execute New Plans, Assess and Learn, Adjust and Innovate, Repeat

  1. Update all the boxes in the My Company’s Scenario Table. Based on your assessment, circle either the Optimistic, Mid-Range or Pessimistic scenario. This is your plan. Go for it.
  2. Do a revenue projection for this scenario.
  3. Add in Customer Value-Add Ideas that fit this scenario. These will be tested and dropped, kept or improved, so you can shift costs to ideas that give you the best results. Plan them out and start executing.
  4. Refine your Operational Response list based on creating a cost budget that fits your revenue projection and Customer Value-Add Idea costs.
  5. Meet with your team and walk them through everything. Gather their ideas and refine your plan. Get buy-in.
  6. This is a starting plan, so be agile. Assess and learn what works and what doesn’t. Update your plan. You’re starting down a path. As you learn, test new ideas and learn some more. Be ready to pivot as things evolve. Survive, build and thrive.

An Opportunity to Gain
It’s likely that there will be a shakeout of your weaker competitors, which will grant you a bigger share of a smaller demand market. So, this presents you with an opportunity. Through your own resilience and by outthinking the remaining players, you’ll lead your company to a stronger position in the New Future—stronger even than you’ve enjoyed in your recent past.

Prepare yourself now for an exhilarating ride.