Stress Testing And Scenario Planning

The future is not ours to see — the future is ours to stress test

“Que sera, sera. Whatever will be, will be. The future’s not ours to see. Que sera, sera.”

So sang Doris Day in 1956. She was right. We cannot know the future with certainty. Those lyrics went on to recommend an attitude of quiet equanimity to whatever may come our way.

Alas, business leaders cannot afford to take Ms. Day’s philosophical attitude towards the future. Their strategic plans, and the fortunes of their shareholders, are based on expectations about what will be.

If the chief executive officer of a car manufacturer expects the prices of gasoline and of diesel to diverge radically in the coming years, that will influence his plans. If a banker expects house prices to collapse, that will affect her plans. If a fashion designer expects orange to become the “new black,” that will affect his. The success of a plan usually depends on future events that the planner cannot control. How should she respond to the fact that she also cannot be certain what these events will be? “Que sera, sera” won’t cut it with shareholders.

Stress Testing And Scenario Planning