It is interesting to note that even people in the IT industry recognize the need for managing the complexity in the world. Chris Potts writes in his blog (Enterprise Architect = Scenario Planner | Advice and Opinion) about the need for the Enterprise Architect to perform scenario planning in order to embrace the uncertainty in the business which he or she is supposed to support. (found via Enterprise Architecture, Development and everything in between: Scenario Planning)
I couldn't agree more. My concern is that this isn't understood in the IT community at all. But in order to try to change this I will here give you CIO:s and IT architects a tip.
Being a consulting scenario planner with a (too) long history in a big IT-department my basic method is to use scenario planning and add a simple cross matrix analysis in order to understand the business effects of the IT choices you have to make.
In practice this means that you
- develop a set of future scenarios, each describing the future needs and structure of a possible business situation (or get the already dnoe scenarios from the strategy department)
- describe the different possible IT-related directions you can take
- identify the evaluation parameters which is used to measure the real business value of IT and scale them from 1 to 5 (1-5)
- workshop through all the quadrants where you evaluate how well that particular IT-direction will work out in that particular business scenario.
- Summarize, present and evaluate the result
The trick here is to have good evaluation parameters as well as involving bot high level IT people with high level business people in the process. If you don't give the participants too long time to dig down into (irrelevant) details you will have a (usually non-existent) strategic discussion about both IT and business at the same time.