A few corporate boards are using scenario planning to better prepare for crises. For example, Reynolds American Inc. held a mock board meeting in July that simulated the death of the chairman and CEO in a plane crash.
During the simulation, the HR chief made a presentation about possible successors, as well as the need to communicate with the press, regulators, investors and employees. The two-hour simulation exposed gaps in Reynolds’ emergency-succession plan. The board found it easier to air such issues “without the intense emotion of facing the [actual] loss of a CEO,” board member Betsy Atkins says. “We ended up feeling better prepared.”