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Client Assignment
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.