The new CEO of a major U.S. coal mining company recognized that the company’s
strategic plan lacked adequate direction and accountability. A company
assessment showed that only the top leaders of the company had been exposed
to strategic ideas, especially about external forces currently shaping
their industry. The company hired Headwaters to conduct a scenario planning
process as a prelude to strategic planning to broaden the staff’s perspectives.
Strategies and Approaches
Headwaters brought together the top 70 leaders from all of the company’s
mines around the country for an intensive three-day workshop. Five external
experts, representing varied perspectives on the energy industry, also
were brought in to provoke innovative thinking. Using the "Fishbowl Dialogue" method,
the experts entered into an interactive, robust dialogue in front of
the larger group. In this way, we ensured that employees shared ideas
and considered external driving forces that could impact the industry
that went beyond any previously held assumptions.
As a result of the workshop, four different scenarios about likely futures
were defined. From these four scenarios, a vision of the future was developed
and key leverage areas (e.g. investing in new technologies and focusing
efforts on public affairs) to help reach this vision were identified.
The CEO agreed that the final leverage areas were markedly different
from those that would have been uncovered without the focused scenario
planning. It enabled the company to move forward and develop a strategic
plan that took those areas into consideration and that was supported
and understood by all. Bringing together 70 leaders of the company, all
from different operating areas, also fostered a much-needed culture of
company unity and bolstered the "We are One Company" theme.