Talk: Scenario Planning for an Uncertain Future — Stephen Allott

Stephen Allott is a venture partner at Seedcamp, a fund that has around 300 active portfolio companies.

As an engaged investment partner, when Covid first hit the UK, Seedcamp doubled down on assisting their companies with navigating the unprecedented uncertainty they faced. What they, and Stephen in particular, are particularly good at is scenario planning which – when done well – is about planning for uncertainty.

The silver lining for us is that in the talk, Stephen is sharing a new tool that you can use for planning out your response to unexpected scenarios.

Stephen Allott on why Seedcamp came up with this new tool.

The full talk and links to the original slide deck and transcript are below.

The purpose of scenario planning isn’t prediction

It’s easy to think of “planning for the future” as an exercise in predicting what’s going to happen. But in practice it turns out that we’re generally pretty bad at forecasting what is exactly going to happen.

Scenario planning therefore focuses more on preparedness for different circumstances:

Scenario planning was invented by Shell, in the 50s, or the 60s and one of the things they started thinking through was the changes in oil price.

What they learned from scenario planning wasn’t so much about getting the future accurately right.

But by thinking through the scenarios, and therefore being ready when the future happened to you, you were in a better position to react to it. The purpose of scenario planning isn’t necessarily to make a prediction, it’s just to think through the options.

So, in the (likely) event that none of your identified circumstances come to pass, you will still be far better off for having gone through the process because many parts of your recovery plans can be easily adapted to whatever you’re actually going through. More importantly, you won’t be in a state of panic.

Full Talk from BoS Europe Online 2020

This talk was recorded live BoS Europe Online in April 2020.

Additional Resources

Read the full transcript of Stephen Allott’s talk and view the slide deck. You can also find more talks by Stephen Allott and other speakers on various topics, including forecasting and planning, in our talks archive.

Learn how great companies are run

At BoS we run events and publish content that is highly valued by anyone trying to build, run, and scale a great software company.

Sign up for a regular dose of actionable and useful content: