Leaders must be prepared, even for the unforeseen. This is the origin of business continuity and disaster recovery plans, and for the most forward-thinking, disaster avoidance planning. Author Lance Mortlock takes it a step further with his book "Disaster Proof: Scenario Planning for a Post-Pandemic Future".

As a strategy partner with Ernst & Young (EY), Lance shares his expertise with co-hosts Brian Comerford and Nick Lozano as they discuss leadership principles to develop a team, formulate a strategy, and take that ideation into action. Lance discusses his theories and his insights, and takes it a step further to demonstrate how his model can actually be produced in a real world environment, outside of academia.

Lance Mortlock

Lance's Book - Disaster Proof

00:00 Show start
02:03 Lance Mortlock Intro
07:54 Disaster Proof
12:05 Disaster recovery and business continuity plans
14:56 Scenario planning
20:20 Artificial Intelligence
33:02 Strategy and innovation
37:25 Risk management
39:54 Potential Disasters
45:27 Book that Lance recommends
46:37 Where you can find Lance and closing

Show Transcript:

Nick Lozano: How are you doing today, Brian? I'm good. How about you, Doing pretty well. We had a very interesting guest today and it's interesting that we had a disaster expert almost a year after we had Dr. Tsipursky. So it's pretty interesting topic. And we delved in everything today from disaster avoidance to machine learning then AI and talking about a future things to worry about.

Brian Comerford: It's true. So Lance Mortlock as our guest he is a strategic advisor for Ernst and Young but more importantly, he is the recent author of a book called disaster. Scenario planning for a post pandemic future. So it's a it's a book that it's incredibly well-written, it's chock-full of fantastic insights their, insights that I would say they extend beyond just thinking in terms of disaster or disaster avoidance.

There's really a lot of great leadership principles in there, particularly for how you can formulate a team, a strategy and how you can use the blended strengths of a variety of different types of roles to contribute to the ideation that you need to put into something like. Disaster recovery, business continuity planning.

Nick Lozano: Yeah, it was really great conversation. Like you said, we went to talking about things from an academic almost perspective to then how to implement it. Which I really like how Lance does that. He brings up his theories, his ideas, and then shows how it can actually be produced and in a real world environment, outside of academia.

And he leverages that if of all his years working in consulting too, he he's done it in real life. So I think with that, there's so much value in this episode today. We're just going to let everyone get on with the episode .

Brian Comerford: And stick around for some some tidbits about some potential future scenarios towards the end of the episode.

It's worth hanging in for.

Brian Comerford: Thanks for joining us for another edition of lead dot exe. I'm Brian Comerford in Denver, Colorado,

Nick Lozano: And I'm Nick Lozano in Washington, DC,

Brian Comerford: And today we're joined with special guests, Lance Mortlock . Who's a Senior Strategy Partner with Ernst and Young, and also a visiting professor at the University of Calgary Haskins School of Business, and has also just authored a book called Disaster Proof Scenario Planning for a Post Pandemic Future.

Lance, thank you very much for taking the time to join us today and welcome to the program.

Lance Mortlock: Thank you for thank you for having me.

Brian Comerford: As I went through your bio, it became clear to me that you have a very rich and varied past. So I'd like you to introduce yourself to our listeners a little bit and pluck out what you think are some of the key points that you'd like to highlight.

Lance Mortlock: Sure. Yeah, so varied would describe it pretty well. Probably tell from my accent despite living up here and, Cold Canada for the last 12 years, my British accent hasn't rubbed off yet. Although my daughters who were both born here, they they both have Canadian accents and yeah, look, it's a great place to live and work.

And I've been pretty fortunate in my career. I've spent 20 years really working as a strategy professional. And in that role over, over those years, it has allowed me to work with all kinds of organizations all around the world and oversee a number of projects. And so I split my time between, being a full-time partner with Ernst and Young helping clients solve complex problems.

And then I spend a bit of my time as a visiting professor. Teaching advanced strategy and really working with, and mentoring young students which I really enjoy. And then as a writer and an author, which we'll hopefully talk about later. I love writing about management topics, leadership, topics, challenges, dynamics that we're seeing and exploring those things.

I'm naturally a very curious person. So spend my time between those three things spent more time actually living in Canada than anywhere else. But prior to coming to Canada, worked in, in, in an, in a number of, sort of varied countries around the world.

Brian Comerford: That's great.

What what kind of framed some of the context for your entry into a management consulting?

Lance Mortlock: Life sometimes is about chance events. And for me, it's, I have, it's a bit of an unusual background. Like my original, my first degree, my undergraduate degree was in was in. Science was in biological science, biochemistry. And I remember a mentor saying to me as I was doing my degree in the UK what do you want to do with your life?

Do you want to go into science research and do a PhD? Or do you want to do other things like, it really caused me to pause and reflect. I then went on and did an MBA at another university full time which really opened my mind to business and and all those kinds of things.

And then there was a recruitment a career fair kind of event at the school. And at the time a company called Anderson consulting which became Accenture, a global. Mega consulting firm. They were there. And I got chatting with a couple of folks there and they said, have you ever thought about consulting?

And I said, no, not really. And they said here are the advantages you get to travel, you get to work with different clients on interesting problems. And a lot of variety and that appealed to me. So I ended up joining Anderson consulting and the first project that I worked on, I remember a partner at the time his name was Tim.

He he kinda came into the room and I was in London in the UK and he said, how do you fancy working in Oman? And I said where is that? Literally in the Arabian peninsula, there's an oil and gas company. Those are details. You'll have a great time. We've got a project. We need you to fly out.

And so I ended up living in Oman, in Muscat for two years and then went from country to country working on different consulting projects. And here I am, 20 years later still doing it.

Brian Comerford: Wow. That's exciting.

Nick Lozano: That's quite the background. I, I'm an Accenture alumni. I used to work there myself.

Yeah. So I know the that company pretty well myself and that. I like to say I randomly wound up in technology too. I walked into a room. That's how I wound up in technology. So I feel you on that one. Yeah.

Brian Comerford: I think there's, considering your biochemistry background as well, you probably appreciate a well-known quote from Louis Pasture depending on how it's translated something to the effect of chance favors the prepared observer.

So it sounds like you were a prepared observer for the various paths that were put in front of you. So that's exciting. I've always approached life Brian, as one where we've got one chance in this life to seize the opportunity and do interesting stuff. And that is what really motivates me to do I do, which is, interesting experiences, interesting projects, helping clients solve.

Lance Mortlock: Interesting problems.

Brian Comerford: Yeah, amen to that. And certainly being in the world that Nick and I have also, come up through and leadership and technology there's always a new challenge, every quarter more problems to be solved. And usually there's someone looking at you because they say, wow, this looks really difficult.

How about you? Figure it out.

Nick Lozano: So let's talk a little bit about your book. I, it's a really interesting topic. And it's, disaster proof and and you're talking about coming out of the pandemic, like what drove you to write this book?

Lance Mortlock: Yeah. Great question. I. Yeah. So the process of writing the book was it was a two year, it was a two year journey.

And I wanted to focus on something that one was accessible to a broader audience. So I wrote it in a way that, anyone could pick it up and really understand it. You don't need to be, do, strategy planning, scenario planning, expert. And it also struck me. And I been thinking about this many years, particularly given my background in, in the energy sector, both in oil and gas and mining and parent utilities, we keep going through these boom and bust cycles.

We keep having these sort of periods of growth and prosperity. Times are good and drill baby drill to quote, Sarah Pailin I can't believe I just did that, then followed by bust periods where it's doom and gloom and companies are struggling to survive and this keeps happening and what keeps we keep being surprised.

And I've been thinking about that for years, I wrote a piece around business resilience and I, with my team, we developed a model around helping companies be more resilient in how they manage external uncertainty. And then I wrote another piece point of view around the DNA of the chief strategey officer.

Which is a much more of a kind of future. How does strategy offices help big corporations be successful? And then there were some other pieces that I wrote. And so I suddenly dawned on me that I can bring some of these concepts together in a book plus with COVID, we were experiencing this massive event of VUCA volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity.

We've got to get better at managing this. And that really is the Genesis of how it started and how the book came to light. It is I wrote disaster proff not to be focused just on dealing with the contagion, with COVID it's about dealing with any uncertainty just happens. That's what we're dealing with right now.

There's going to be something else. We don't know what it is yet. I have my guesses of what I think will be the next major disruption event, but understand that every 10 years or so something is happening, before COVID, it was the financial crisis before that the dot com bubble, before that, it was the,

Brian Comerford: the tequila crisis.

I had never known until I like,

Lance Mortlock: As much as I I love tequila, but when it keeps happening and we have to be prepared for this. And that, that really is what the book's about. And then the other piece that that a lot of people talk about and I've done a lot of research on. Is technology like we're investing, particularly with the remote working that's happening right now with COVID that investing billions of dollars in technology.

And that is going to be a source of big change and disruption in the coming decades. So yeah, like I, my big premise is that we have to think about the future in different ways and challenge ourselves to be had.

Brian Comerford: All joking aside as I read through the book, part of what impressed me is, it's so highly informative from a lot of different dimensions.

It's clear that you've taken this from the approach of how do you equip leaders. To really have a full-blown framework for planning through a variety of scenarios. So you've got case studies in the book. It's just rich with references in context. As you were pouring through the list of, these crises they've preceded us, they're going to be more of them to follow, which I'd like to ask you about before we wrap the program today.

But part of what I think is, the most critical from a leadership perspective to me is really that definition that you put together around scenario planning, what it means, all of the pieces and parts that roll up into it. There's a bit of it that's of course those of us who have worked in IT know about disaster recovery and business continuity plans, it's just part of what you're tasked with and for good reason. But you get into, these levels of depth that that I find really intriguing and particularly, just starting with the definition of scenario planning which I know you provide in the book, but would be great to hear you just speak to it as well.

Lance Mortlock: Yeah. It really comes down to a formalized process for helping you think about the future of managing uncertainty. So let's unpack that a little bit. Like I mentioned earlier, VUCA volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. It's all around us, particularly at the moment with COVID.

Although as we emerge from that, VUCA, I think it's a perfect planet. It's a perfect period of time to say, okay, what next as a company, as an organization, where do we go to from here? Which is why, it was important for me to release the book in the U S in May and in Canada, in April.

But it's helping organizations manage complexity, manage uncertainty. Think about multiple futures. If you're trying to forecast the future. That's a dangerous game. I don't think anyone has a perfect crystal ball. And that's forecasting for me. The key difference with scenario planning, you, you know saying like there's one future, there's another future.

Let's think about those two futures. Those riverbanks let's stretch the stretch the riverbanks. And that say, okay, if that plays out, what are we going to do as a company? Or if this plays out, what are we going to do as a company? And to me, that is what we've got to get and continue to force organizations to encourage organizations to think about like are we strategic and flexible.

And that's what scenario planning is about. It's about stretching the mental models to say, Hey, there's A, there's B there's C. What does it mean? Are we prepared and what are the signals? That's the other definitional point, Brian, that's important. What are the signals that we should be monitoring? We there's all kinds of case studies out there of companies that get disrupted because they miss the signals.

You think about blockbuster with Netflix Kodak, with, digital photography. Those are the classic examples. There are many other examples of companies that missed the signals that our scenario is playing out, such as digital media, digital videos, and then it's too late. And so understanding those signals as part of scenario planning is a really important factor.

Nick Lozano: And when you talk about scenario planning, is it helpful to run through simulations every now and then of what you think you should do as a team to see if what you have planned out if it works or not? Do you find stuff like that helpful at all?

Lance Mortlock: For sure. And one of the examples that I talk about in the book is some work that the world economic forum did.

And I have to point out shameless plug here to chairman and founder of the World Economic Forum, Klaus Schwab has endorsed my book. And I think, it's important. I raise it because, the World Economic forum is a future focused organization that is challenging countries, organizations, big organizations, small organizations to really think about.

Different futures that play out, which aligns very well with disaster proof and the concepts that I talk about. But the world economic forum machine years ago ran a session with Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. And the John Hopkins University, they called it event two oh one and it was all around Nick, like thinking about different futures that would play out where a novel coronavirus would spread from bats pigs, to humans in Brazil, and perfectly played it out the scenario to your question.

And so they worked through and they simulated and they said, okay, if this happened, how would it play out? It would spread rapidly because the initial symptoms aren't very severe, so people don't know how to have it. And then. They have it, and they've given it to 10 other people and private sector where they simulated private sector coming in with PPE equipment.

I think about in Canada, we've had examples of oil and gas companies creating hand sanitizer, repurposing facilities to create hand sanitizer. I think about ah Dyson creating ventilators. I know, I think Tesla at one point were also, creating equipment like the private sector. They simulated the private sector coming in to help.

So for me, when I dug more into event 2 0 1 and many other examples, it struck me that these are powerful tools that we are not taking seriously. We one, we need to listen to the scientists, I think more often, but that's a separate point. And secondly, I think we need to use these management tools to really help us think about the future.

Yeah, a lot of that's music to my ears. Buckminster Fuller is one of my all time greatest heroes who apart from, really leading the charge with design thinking was one of those proponents of the world game. Which was the fore runner to a lot of what you just described.

Those scenarios being played out with the world economic forum. That design thinking, factors into much of what I just heard you say, right? You're thinking about a lot of various possibilities and then thinking about, what are those various paths to risk mitigation? And it may not always be one-to-one right.

There may be a lot of different varieties in which that can happen a matrix kind of approach. So a lot of what you described as I understand it. And your definition of scenario planning is designed to, step everyone through that and help inform, get everyone on the same page so that you can start to plan around steps that you might take for execution to mitigate disasters, thus making it disaster proof.

Brian Comerford: Am I tracking?

Lance Mortlock: Yeah no, I'm tracking what you're saying. And I think it aligns well with what I'm the way I characterize it. Perhaps a different way of saying it is I think as humans, we have a habit of converging and deciding what to do to quickly.

Convergent thinking.

So the philosopher, Joy Gilford an American psychologist she talks about this notion of divergent and convergent thinking. I think management teams have to challenge themselves not to converge on the solution too quickly and decide what to do, but actually take a step back and explore the possibilities, divergent thinking and what I call in the book wallowing in the ambiguity.

I work a lot in the energy sector and it's full filled with very smart engineers and they're solution orientated. And it's amazing what these guys can do. But sometimes you need to take a step back and explore the possibilities here and think about those different possibilities.

And the other thing that I talk about in the book is the importance of cross-functional expertise. Are you bringing different thinkers to the table when solving problems and thinking about the future that provide diversity of perspective, that's very important and that sort of divergent space. So I think you have to weigh up are we spending enough time on converging and diverging because there has to be a balance there, right?

I like that you put the cross functional teams. I know at least in my experience and maybe Brian's is too working in technology a lot of times, like maybe CRMs a problem or something like that. And it instantly. The, it team's problem to solve when it's really a business problem.

Nick Lozano: We're looking at business processes and different things. So yeah,

Lance Mortlock: One quick thing, Nick, I'll just say that. Sorry to interject, but

Nick Lozano: No, go ahead.

Lance Mortlock: In disaster proof I dedicate a complete chap chapter, which w which if we have time, we can talk about, the emergence of artificial intelligence is really the new frontier.

I think as we continue to see AI machine learning, natural language processing and robotics process automation, Like filter through all aspects of our business lives and our personal lives. The translator role is so important in that process. Business-minded people that can act as the connector to the technology savvy people and interpret, what it means, how we design it, how it adds value.

I think that there's a very creative role and business lead role that I see in some organizations being very successful.

Nick Lozano: You actually touched on the point I was going to, I was going to bring up, cause I know you had the AI you're reading my mind. And I saw your, your mentioned about using AI artificial intelligence, machine learning.

And as this stuff becomes more available to smaller organizations, right? Cause I know you can go. Pay to use Watson you can pay to use. Amazon has one. Microsoft has one. How important do you think it is for smaller organizations? Maybe they're not the huge Accentures or KPMGs of the world how important it is for them to start dipping their toes into it and researching that type of information to see if there's, somewhere where they can start utilizing it.

Lance Mortlock: Yeah. I think there's always the sort of fear of the unknown when you're a small or medium sized enterprise, that this is all, big, scary stuff. And, we'll leave it to the Microsofts and the Googles and the Facebooks of the world to worry about that. But I think there's this massive untapped potential where there's existing technology that works, that is cheap, that is available in some cases it's free that you can leverage to enhance your capabilities.

And so I would encourage all kinds of organizations to consider that, in fact, an example that I would use I sit on the board of an organization that focuses on trying to bring the energy sector and more environmentally leaning organizations together to solve some of our our climate related challenges.

Here in Canada, it's a non-for-profit organization, very small head count, and we're actually using natural language processing for that small organization to help us understand sentiment amongst Canadians, as it relates to energy climate change and these big issues that we're faced with. So we teamed with the University of Alberta.

And we're doing it where we're using NLP, we're using a machine learning tool very accessible financially for us to do that. And it really is driving all kinds of interesting insights around the way Canadians think about energy and climate change that helps inform our decision-making strategically.

And that's a non-for-profit with, less than 10, 10 employees. And then I've seen it in, mega companies have tens of thousands of employees used and everything in between. So long way of saying Nick I think it's very accessible and we have to get over the fear factor.

Brian Comerford: And I think there's a certain discipline to it as well.

That understanding that there's a value to the outcome of actually going down that path and spending the time to, to roll up your sleeves and, perhaps do some work that takes you out of your comfort zone so that you can really start learning some of the new applications for it.

So we've already diverged off into this path where we're talking about, part of the subtitle of your book, aI, the new frontier, which I know that you said you, you hope that we have time to get to it. So since we're already going down that path I'd like to ask you about something that you mentioned earlier, that you've got some ideas about some of the impending disasters that we need to have some preparedness for, some scenarios that perhaps you've already contemplated that are strong possibilities using AI.

What would be some of the approaches that then would help us to step through some of the scenario planning for some of those things that better possibilities?

Lance Mortlock: Yeah. Yeah. There's the way the particular part, AI and I scratched the surface in the book. And the more I read about it, the more I want to read about it.

It's a scary technology, but it's also quite exciting. It's a double-edged sword, as you become more informed you your. Your eyes open up. And there's some great books out that, life three dot O superintelligence humans, last invention really accessible reading in terms of your listeners and wanting to understand more about AI.

To me, it's a data challenge where as an organization or a government, what you're trying to do is make sense of the data that exists in the world as IBM said once they talk about, we created more data in the last two years than the rest of humanity combined, what do we do with all this data? I work with all kinds of organizations where one of their biggest challenges is they're capturing data through IOT and other sensor technology, but they don't know what to do with that.

They don't know how to drive. Insights and decision-making and all those things from this data. And so it, it struck me as I was researching the book that there is this tremendous opportunity, particularly with natural language processing, to use the data and information in different ways to inform strategic thinking.

Let's take COVID. For example, like there is existing technology that was being used by the Canadian government to monitor diseases as they were emerging around the world. They've successfully identified MERS, SARS, H1N1 before they became major issues. So it's the sick this I talked about earlier, the signal monitoring this natural language processing tool that they were using was able to scrub data from public sources on the internet from 10,000 different sources.

Humans can't do. And so it's about how do you use in my mind, NLP type tools to scrub information in a way to draw out the risks, the threats, the uncertainties, in fact, IBM has taken it a step forward. They have a pilot project underway. I still believe it's in the pilot phase where their tool will actually develop the scenarios for you as well.

So it not only scrubs the data and says, here's, what's important. You might want to focus on this competitor, that's encroaching on your space but actually here are four possibilities of the way this could play out. And that's really interesting, where I find as a strategist, I find it a little bit fearful that, am I going to be out of a job in 10 years?

But I think the capability of this technology to kind of. Process the information. And so I talk about in the book, this notion of collective intelligence, which is nothing new, but it's, we have to, particularly with strategic processes like scenarios, strategic planning, figure out what's the right blend between using NLP and AI tech technology to support certain steps in the process and figuring out where do humans play and then together, the collective intelligence takes the company much further forward.

And look, there's examples of this being used in highly strategic context all the time you think about, how banking, investment banking transactions are made using machine learning. You think about in the U S hurricane, you know, hurricane signals and using machine learning to look at different weather data points to say this hurricane is going to be a problem, particularly with climate change where we're seeing more of it.

We need to be prepared that scenario is going to be a problem for us. And whether people are great and they play a role, but can we use NLP to augment that in a collective intelligent way is what I, really trying to push in the book.

Brian Comerford: So it's possible that people could just be the emissaries of what the algorithms are telling us.

So people do still get to have a role in it. That's good news.

Lance Mortlock: I hope so I might be asking you for a job.

Brian Comerford: It's interesting because I've got a lot of experience working with insurance technology and so the risk management applications of what you're talking about, there's we're already seeing the emergence of a lot of it, particularly with the the companies that are the major insurers, that a lot of what we characterize as machine. And this predictive modeling, those are things that are being factored in today. Most commonly for identifying things like fraud in claim submissions. Really going several steps further out based on what you're talking about, really being able to start doing some scenario, playing around, hide, catastrophic risk, really high impact risks and being able to apply risk management so that the humans can come in and have that risk advisory role from a consultative aspect.

Lance Mortlock: That's right. I think you characterized it really there that the example that you used in insurance, I'd classify that as operational application and what I try to advocate or push for that we have to start thinking about and disaster proof is. The strategic application, we're going to move from operational application to strategic application and we need to get ready for that.

It's a bit like automation. And, you think about automation and blue collar workers, particularly in like automotive manufacturing, we went through this massive wave of that. We're now seeing, in white collar work workers a wave of automation that, and I think within the white collar workers, it's not only operational processes, but it's going to be strategic processes as well.

We need to figure that out. We need to figure out, where do we add value in that system, in that relationship? And where do you, where do the machines artificial intelligence, whether they, where does that add value together?

And remember as well that. Complexity is not going away. It's getting, it seems like it's getting worse. We're dealing with more VUCA. And so the traditional methods of dealing with that I think are outdated.

Brian Comerford: That's interesting to hear you say that, as is common for most companies, every periodically once a quarter or couple of times a year, whatever it is, you have to go through a security training, and that's just become very commonplace. And this time going through my own security training part of what I thought was interesting was one of the risk factors that was presented the first time that I've ever seen it is disinformation. And when you talk about FUCA and the amplification of it, we've now seen this new sort of emergent trend with disinformation, particularly through social media channels that has become so widespread in a very short period of time.

And based on your own need for interpreting the signals. I'm curious as, how does that factor into your disaster scenario planning really those other factors that are more cultural responses to something like COVID right.

I There's been this underlying current of things that I know, I certainly didn't predict about this time last year when everyone was saying, Hey, we're in it together. And that fell apart pretty quick.

Lance Mortlock: Yeah. So around signals. So I think there are social economic, like you've got to take a balanced approach that your signal monitoring can't be purely financial, purely economic.

Or political, but I think you've got to have a good balance of looking at the social signals that are in play as well. And I think the other thing is like that there has to be a prioritization of those signals. There's a lot of different things that you could monitor. I think the technology, as we talked about helps you monitor more but you, there has to be a prioritization because at some point a human has to look at these signals and make a decision, particularly with strategic processes because, humans are still in the loop and humans only have a certain amount of capacity of things that they can look at.

So I think thinking through that prioritization and ensuring that they're balanced is important, if that makes.

Brian Comerford: Thank you. Thank you.

Nick Lozano: You bring up like you're getting ready to, yeah. A lot of great points when we're talking a lot about strategy and using AI and this is strategy and innovation are these departments that organizations should just have where somebody's full-time job. And I noticed as time has been going on, we've seen a lot more like chief innovation officer, chief strategy officer is that somewhere we're going towards and those individuals utilizing AI more to help them analyze some of the data?

Lance Mortlock: Yeah. It's the there's one of the things that I talk about quite a bit is this sort of confluence of three aspects. So I would add to what you said, there's the chief strategy officer, which, in my mind, they are trying to. Anticipate navigate and translate what's going on in the world.

There's the chief digital officer who is trying to connect, integrate and transform the organization. The third aspect is there's the chief risk officer, which is trying to measure, monitor and control risk. And those three things need to, I think, come together. I think innovation to your point, as part of can be part of that sort of digital journey.

Look there's different lenses that you can apply to this, but I think now more than ever integrating these different capabilities is so important. And I see lots of companies like, they'll have a chief strategy officer, but that person is not integrating and connecting and working closely with.

Chief Risk officer and they need to be, or the chief strategy officer working with the chief digital officer, like technology is everything now. And those capabilities have to come together, I think in much more meaningful ways in the future. And then these are you right Nick. Like these are new capabilities that companies need to build big and small.

And I think if you're a small company, there's an opportunity to have people multi hat, because you don't have the resources and capabilities that perhaps a bigger company has where they can have a dedicated resource to do this. In a small company the CEO might be the innovation officer as well and do both and that is fine.

Brian Comerford: Yeah, we heard you say earlier in talking about, cross-functional roles. I think back to once again, mine Bucky Fuller's, famous term of synergy, it's really bringing together a lot of those blended strengths so that you do have the possibility of combining all of that ideation as part of the leverage within your strategy.

And it sounds as well that now with the emergence of AI, that's going to continue to be part of that blended strength.

Lance Mortlock: Yeah. I think it has to be. And yeah, there's. These things are concentric circles, where I think that there are areas of overlap where strong collaboration and integration needs to happen between different capabilities in an organization.

I think there are areas where, Hey, you know if we need to slam in this new technology as quickly and as efficiently as possible, just get on with it and do it. And it doesn't require huge amount of collaboration to be successful. And you've got to judge, those different areas along along the way.

One of the things that I do try and address in the book is some of these different roles and the roles that they play and the practical application of those roles. I didn't have the time to address everything, but I certainly tried to capture some of those key roles.

Why they're important, the facilitation that they play in the process.

Brian Comerford: Yeah. As previously mentioned, I think, the book is just a great study for anyone in a leadership role. Even if it's not necessarily your specific roles charge to be key to things like, disaster recovery planning but to really be able to go through your book and have an understanding from the various case studies the different roles that you define and even to, the the benefits, right?

You've got a listing of I think the eight benefits of really undergoing this type of an organizational endeavor. Certainly some of them that we've talked about along the way here, in terms of being able to do things like formulate your strategy and, but then have the capabilities of coming back around and validating that as well.

Lance Mortlock: We've touched on different aspects of this, I think. And what I try and lay out is, there are a series of input benefits, like risk management. You talked about that, Brian and we talked about managing uncertainty, but then process benefits where, you know, organizational learning, I think showers a great example of a company that uses scenarios to really learn about the environment and testings and drive action.

As part of the learning process, it helps with option paralysis to say, we've got different strategic options that we can play out. What does that look like? It helps validate and stress test your strategy. In fact on uncertainty actually going back to that rolls Royce is a great example.

Good British company. I can't help myself at times, but the, they use scenarios to really formalize uncertainty management. And so we need to get better at managing uncertainty. It helps with complex decision-making when you're making a major capital investment, that might be billions of dollars or even a technology investment, like an S four implementation and ERP.

These are big decisions. So you could use scenarios to play, okay. If this environment plays out, would we still make that technology investment? Would we go full on into e-commerce or we can continue our traditional retail approach as an example. And then the other piece is innovation. You touched on innovation.

I think there are great examples of where future thinking and scenarios can help. Organizations innovate. One of the examples I talk about in the book is the port of Vancouver. So up here in Canada, they're one of our lot, they are our largest port on the west coast and they use scenario planning to help envisage a future.

That's much more sustainable energy, renewable and focus. And it actually resulted in them forming a partnership with BC hydro, one of the major utilities. And, the way I look at it is that might not have happened. Have they not thought about these things in different ways? So it really helped help them innovate.

So I think that there are all kinds of benefits. The specific benefit for your company will depend on what you want to get out of it.

Brian Comerford: That's terrific. I know we're getting close on time here, but I do want to give you the chance to speak a little bit to some of those potential disasters that you believe may be impending.

I heard you speak about it a little bit at the beginning of the program. Can you give us a sampling of what we might be needing to be monitoring signals for?

Lance Mortlock: Yeah. So there's this probably, there's a few things that I think about in in my spare time. One is China. And actually, if you take a step back and you look at what's happening with China right now and it's not necessarily a disaster by the way, because I think that there's upside and downside to thinking about different futures.

But if you think about China, 2028, economically they will be the most powerful company, a country company country in the world. So that's only eight years away. And most economists would agree that they are on that track to, to become very economically powerful.

They already, I think have the biggest Navy, they are militarily very strong and they're investing heavily in that space. And so one of the things that I wonder about is, if, and when that happens is a possible scenario, how would that change? You know what we know as world order, I think the Americans have done a tremendous job in the last 70 years, really policing the world, really creating a system.

And the currency, the us dollar that has served us well in terms of the west over the last 70 years, there's a great book actually called Dis United nations. And it talks about the shifting of that guard. World order to a different world, or that doesn't mean that world order is not going to be better.

It's just going to be different, but that difference creates VUCA. And I think we have to get our heads around. What could that mean in terms of the way businesses operate the the way trade is done, the way corporation works, it's change. And I think that's a very real possible scenario that will change things.

So that's one, the second one we've talked about a lot, which is artificial intelligence. And I think in the next 10 years, we're going to continue to see Big advancements there. A possible scenario that could play out that some would say is as possible, others would say it's still a long ways off is real general intelligence.

And so that's the machine that can essentially operate the same way that humans do from measuring capacity perspective. So it's not one dimensional algorithms, it's general intelligence. It's able to, solve this particular problem, but also could solve a completely different problem. They can play chess and beat humans, but it also can process IOT, sensor data, and drive insights and support decision-making and everything in between general intelligence.

And then quickly after that. Super-intelligence and some are saying that once you get to general intelligence learning deep learning machine learning, it will self-learn and then get to superintelligence very quickly. Maybe a couple of years after that, I think that the disruptive impact of that we don't fully understand is a possible scenario right now, but what I think about is, okay what will happen to the middle class?

I think you potentially have a S a piece of society that is able to continue some of the manual jobs cheaper than machines. And then another part of society that is on the very, very kind of complex thinking, but what happens in between what will the 30% of male population in the us that rely on jobs that are to do with driving action?

Trucks become fully autonomous taxes become fully autonomous deliveries become fully autonomous. We have this sort of potential gutting of the middle class. And I think we have to play that out and that there are solutions to that. I think we do a think about different tax structures, incentives to companies to actually tax robots, incentivize companies to hire humans instead of robots.

So there are ways that we can get through this, but it's an uncertainty and that's a scenario that we need to play out. So that's the second one that I think about a lot. And then the third one is around energy transition as an energy guy and spending a big part of my career focused on energy.

I think, you re read bill gates book on, on the climate crisis and other books on on the challenge that we have in terms of climate change. It's a big uncertainty that's playing out real time. And I think it has huge implications in terms of companies focus on ESG companies, focus on kind of climate change in net zero, what governments do around policy and regulation.

And we're only seeing the beginning of this tsunami of activity that's going to happen in the next decade and companies need to be prepared for that. So we covered a lot in a short period of time there, but China, AI and energy transition would be my top three.

Nick Lozano: I know that we're almost out of time here. We're a little bit over. Do you have a book or a piece of media that's had a big influence on you that you'd like to share with everybody?

Lance Mortlock: There's two that have had a big impact on me over the years as a strategic advisor, one would be discipline of market leaders by Michael Tracy.

And what I really like about what Michael did was, and he actually endorsed my book as well. He's a New York Times bestseller is he did a nice job of thinking about companies can be great really great at one thing, but you can't be great at all things. And he talks about highly innovative companies, operationally excellent companies and very customer intimate company.

So I'd love that book. I've used those concepts over my career many times. And then the other book also Michael, but Michael Watkins wrote the book the first 90 days. And it's a really practical guide to when you go into a new leadership. What you do in the first 90 days really sets you up for success or failure beyond that in a new company, a new leadership role.

So those would be my two.

Brian Comerford: I always love when we get references to things that I'm not familiar with.

Nick Lozano: I know it's awesome. And since we're wrapping up here, Lance, where can people find you or your book or like where can they reach out to you?

Lance Mortlock: Yeah, I'm an avid user of LinkedIn.

So you can find me on LinkedIn. So that's one, one area or go onto my website, which is www.lancemortlock.com.

Nick Lozano: We'll be sure to link all that stuff in the show notes for people who are listening so they can easily find you

Lance Mortlock: Perfect.

Brian Comerford: Lance Mortlock. Thank you so much for the time that you spent with us today.

It's been fascinating. Just hearing your insight. I certainly appreciate the time that I've gotten to spend with your book disaster proof scenario planning for a post pandemic future. Thank you very much for for sharing your insights with our audience today.

Lance Mortlock: Thanks, Brian. And thanks Nick being pleasure.

Nick Lozano: Thank you.