The mood in the room seemed to match the mood outside; it was a cold and overcast October morning. Talk was subdued and dark humor prevailed. The managers had gathered for a scenario planning session that I was helping to facilitate, but it was easy to tell that their minds were elsewhere. The media were reporting that this company was about to be bought by a competitor, so many in the room were feeling that any talk about the future, let alone talk of today, was moot.

The mood changed as soon as their boss, a vice president, rose to speak. He addressed the issue of the ...

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