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During a Franchise Growth Mastermind conversation with professional poker player and motivational speaker Annie Duke, Annie shares with us and Nick Powills of 1851 Franchise strategic planning and decision making strategies for franchisors, franchisees, and entrepreneurs. Annie shares the following advice:

Understand that We Have Less Control Than We Think

At a fundamental level as humans we believe that we have more control over our lives than we really do. Crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic have the mental impact of “pulling back the curtain” and revealing that in life and business we have less control than we think. Understanding and recognizing this is important for removing internal bias from your decision making.

Strategic Planning Requires Evaluating Odds, Outcomes and Hedges

Good decision making and strategic planning requires a mindset where we take ourselves out of the moment and project forward into the future of what our businesses may potentially look like when considering the variables, chances of luck, and hedges.

Annie recommends that business leaders utilize planning strategies that include evaluating what potential future success (backcasting) and potential future failure (pre-mortem) may look like and the decisions that led to those outcomes. Below is a brief summary of this exercise:

  • Back-Casting from a Successful Future – take yourself out of the moment and evaluate what success looks like for your business 6 and 12 into the future. That is imagine that your business is successful and thriving 6 months into the future (after a challenge that you are experiencing such as COVID-19) and then evaluate and consider (a) what success looks like at that future date, (b) what were the decisions that you made that led to that success, (c) what were the matters of luck (things that are outside of your control like the economy, etc…) that went your way, and (d) what hedges did you put in place in case things didn’t go your way. your business is successful.
  • Conducting a Pre-Mortem of an Unsuccessful Future – take yourself out of the moment and evaluate what failure looks like for your business 6 and 12 into the future. That is imagine that your business is unsuccessful and failing 6 months into the future (after a challenge that you are experiencing such as COVID-19) and then evaluate and consider (a) what failure looks like at that future date, (b) what were the decisions that you made or didn’t make that led to failure, (c) what were the matters of luck (things that are outside of your control like the economy, etc…) that didn’t go your way, and (d) what hedges did you failed to put to help mitigate against those chances of luck that didn’t go your way.

Annie Duke does an amazing job of explaining her decision making process and the systems that she recommends for business leaders. Annie also explains how internal bias infects team meetings and how business leaders can mitigate against this bias by having team members answer important questions privately in writing before gathering together in a group meeting.

Annie’s advice and the framework that she describes in the video is groundbreaking and effective. Definitely check out the video. Also learn about Annie Duke’s Alliance for Decision Education.

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