If this year has taught us anything, it’s that anything is possible — and not in a good way. When we sat down to plan for 2020, did any of us think that we’d have to contend with a global pandemic, murder hornets, or Elon Musk naming his baby boy X AE A-12?
Even now, as businesses work to rebuild during COVID-19 recovery, there remains a sneaky suspicion that there are more surprises right around the corner — and not just in factors like the cost of goods and sales volume.
Will our product margin fall short because we failed to consider the costs for now-necessary remote work tools? Will the company’s guerrilla marketing efforts fail to spawn anything other than gorillas? Will a giant gelatinous blob monster absorb your organization following a corporate merger? At this point, nearly anything seems possible.
In hopes of providing some levity to these unexpected times, we spoke to Finance Leaders about their top unlikely scenarios for the upcoming year.
Unlikely Scenario #1: Destroyed by Our Own Creation
“I’ll go with an AI theory. The Age of Ultron struck me as at least possible. If you don’t know the plot, Tony Stark created an AI being [named Ultron] whose mission was to protect the earth. Ultron achieved self-awareness and decided that humans were the biggest threat to earth and decided to wipe us out. If you want that in a few words — artificial intelligence causes an apocalyptic future created by our own hubris.”
Jack McCullough, President, CFO Leadership Council
Unlikely Scenario #2: Undeserved Contact From an Alien Race
“With the answer “Global Pandemic” now off the table for this category, I would say “First Contact.” At what point does our technology rise to the level that we humans warrant interaction by beings from beyond our known universe? Crazy? Maybe. But I think having a playbook with a list of assumptions may not be a bad idea.”
Ken Fick, Director, Strategy & Transformation at MorganFranklin Consulting
Unlikely Scenario #3: A Visit From a Quality-Obsessed Higher Power
“Our wildest scenario is to plan for the second coming! Our higher powers will expect shiny new roads and well maintained environmental sites! Our engineers must provide great efficiencies in efforts and have the best QC/QA process around. I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t want to be on any non-perfect list of our higher power!”
Amie Roach, Chief Financial Officer at Lochmueller Group
Unlikely Scenario #4: Robot Overlords
“My wildest prediction is that we will have robots take over the world. Figure out what you’re really good at and plan to barter. And learn to dodge the radar, so they don’t catch you.”
Gabrielle Luoma, Co-Founder and CEO at MOD Ventures, LLC
Unlikely Scenario #5: Chocolate as Currency
“The lesson from 2020 is to expect the unexpected! What’s left in the next couple months? I will go with alien invasion. The key will be “cash is king” unless they really like milk or chocolate.”
Richard B Pototsky, President, Miami-CFO
Planning for Likely and Unlikely Scenarios
Who knows what next year has in store for us. Maybe you’ll need to outmaneuver a zombie competitor that’s literally after a pound of flesh. Perhaps your supply chain will be interrupted by a Sharknado. Maybe sourdough bread will become the standard currency. One thing is for sure: unexpected scenarios have come to be expected, and we’d all do well to prepare as best we can.
Scenario planning can help CFOs and Finance Leaders mitigate risk and uncover new growth opportunities, even in these complex, uncertain times. Download our Scenario Planning for Finance guide and learn how to plan for virtually anything.