PNR Insights | Making Sense

April 21, 2020

Understanding the world around us and executing an effective plan forward is at the heart of good strategy. This is akin to the concept of sensemaking, the ability or attempt to make sense of an ambiguous situation.

Put simply, the first question in sensemaking is “What is going on?” and the second is “What do we do next?”. More exactly, sensemaking is the process of creating situational awareness and understanding in situations of high complexity or uncertainty in order to make decisions. It is “a motivated, continuous effort to understand connections (which can be among people, places, and events) in order to anticipate their trajectories and act effectively”.

The traditional sensemaking apparatus have failed in predicting the global pandemic we’re currently experiencing. As a result, global leaders are reacting to the environment having been unable to anticipate the impact.

One of the core elements of our Strategy in Action principles is to create strong situational awareness. We believe that there is a way for leaders to be proactive and plan for different scenarios during this crisis. Organizations can create strong situational awareness by putting in place teams across three different dimensions.

1) Scenario Planning Team

The scenario planning team should include finance and operations executive members, as well as some internal and external resources to support the identification of risks and their potential financial impact. The output can be analysis of risk factors, adversity scenarios and sensitivity analyses.

2) Quick Action Operational Team

The quick action operational team will need to create an action plan using the scenario planning done beforehand. The objective of the quick action operational team is to generate and execute on a short and medium term list of actions targeting all relevant areas of the organization.

3) Strategic Acceleration Team

The strategic acceleration team needs to determine the probability that a temporary change identified by the scenario planning team might become a permanent change by identifying trigger events. The team will then need to determine the business risks and opportunities in order to develop proactive, pre-emptive and defensive strategy.

At PNR, we encourage our customers to think more expansively and ask the following questions:

  • What are the different shapes of the recovery going to look like and how will they impact our organization?
  • What market corporate development opportunities can we take advantage of?
  • How will consumer behaviors change and how do we reflect this in our customer journey?
  • How can we accelerate our rate of innovation and enhance our value proposition?

Certain industries are impacted in a manner that the main response is survival. For those leaders, they need to cut deep and start preparing for the recovery. For others, the current crisis can serve as an important vehicle for business reinvention. It might be a good opportunity to rethink past conventions and think about building more resilient systems while developing a portfolio of opportunities.

Fun stuff

Our most downloaded podcasts from the past quarter:

Business journalism with Marine Thomas, Editor in Chief @ Les Affaires

Marine is driven by a desire to offer our readers relevant and high-quality content, whether in paper or digital form. In addition, she sits on the Board of Directors of the Montreal Women’s Y – YWCA Montreal since 2014. She is currently Vice-Chair of the Board. Previously, she was editor-in-chief at Revue Gestion – HEC Montréal, editor-in-chief of Inspiro Media and deputy editor-in-chief of Premieres en Affaires. Marine has a Masters in Culture and Media Management (Press and Publishing Specialty) from Sciences Po (Paris).

On the show, we spoke about:

  • The acquisition of Les Affaires
  • The importance of diversifying revenue sources as well as quality journalism
  • Putting the client at the center of a transformation
  • Where media is headed

Mastering safety with Joe Meadows, Co-Founder & CEO @ Opslock

Joe is a worksite safety entrepreneur. He started his career as a mariner and quickly moved up the ranks to become Chief Mate at McDermott International. He saw an entrepreneurial opportunity to help prevent workplace incidents and decided to launch his own startup. He co-founded Opslock which builds tools to save lives at work.

On the show, we spoke about:

  • How he became a master mariner
  • Moving up the ranks and eventually became second in command upon a large ship
  • Starting Opslock and seeing the opportunity in worker’s safety
  • How he met his co-founder in unusual circumstances
  • Raising funding from the world’s top investors

Talking about mental health with Martin Enault, COO @ Felix & Paul Studios

Martin has over 16 years of experience between executive roles and being an entrepreneur, and is now COO for Felix & Paul Studios. He also wants to change how the world sees social issues, and particularly around mental health.

Previously, he was part of C2 MTL for five years, and it truly changed his perspective on the world. He hopes to help inspire others in seeing that we can, and should, reshape the future. He has been blessed with dyslexia, anxiety and depression, and it’s changed the way he sees the world. He sees these as a positive force, as they make him a better person, and enables him to see the world from a different perspective.

On the show, we spoke about:

  • How he got started in entertainment
  • Growing C2 from a startup to a global phenomenon
  • Where he sees the future of VR
  • The issues of mental health and what people can do it
  • Practical advice for those affected by depression or anxiety

Our favorite articles:

How to Do Strategic Planning Like a Futurist Amy Webb, Harvard Business Review (reading time: 9 minutes)

How do you do strategic planning in an uncertain future? Amy Webb provides some great guidelines on how to tackle this challenge at the tactical, strategy and vision level.

It might go against your biological wiring, but give yourself and your team the opportunity to think about the short- and long-term simultaneously.

Balance your strategic time and your operational time Amineh Younes, PNR (reading time: 6 minutes)

Amineh wrote a terrific piece on how to balance strategy and operations. In our work, we’re often confronted with this challenge for our customers. Amineh provides some great tips on what you can do.

The mindsets and practices of excellent CEOs McKinsey (reading time: 25 minutes)

What the CEO controls—the company’s biggest moves—accounts for 45 percent of a company’s performance. McKinsey sets out to show which mindsets and practices are proven to make CEOs most effective. There are six elements that represent the make up of a CEO’s role (personal working norms, external stakeholders, board engagement, corporate strategy, organizational alignment and team & processes). It’s a simplistic representation but adds value to the only peerless job in an organization.


We held a meetup at our office in February (which feels like 12 years ago). It was the first meetup about Wardley Mapping in Montreal. 15 people showed up

If you have any suggestions or comments, we would love to hear from you! insights@thepnr.com

We hope that you get out of this crisis stronger & more resilient!

The PNR Team

Past editions

2019 Review | French version

Q3 2019

Q2 2019

Q1 2019

2018 Review

Q3 2018

Q2 2018