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Scenario Planning – a necessary tool for the CIO

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.

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In practice this means that you

  1. 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)
  2. describe the different possible IT-related directions you can take
  3. identify the evaluation parameters which is used to measure the real business value of IT and scale them from 1 to 5 (1-5)
  4. workshop through all the quadrants where you evaluate how well that particular IT-direction will work out in that particular business scenario.
  5. 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.

1 thought on “Scenario Planning – a necessary tool for the CIO

  1. Steven Earl Salmony, Chapel Hill, NC

    AN APPARENTLY UNFORESEEN SCENARIO??

    What concerns most of all me is this: the family of humanity appears not to have more than several more years in which to make necessary changes in its conspicuous over-consumption lifestyles, in the unsustainable overproduction practices of big-business enterprises, and its overpopulation activities. Humankind may not be able to protect life as we know it and to preserve the integrity of Earth for even one more decade.

    If we project the fully anticipated growth of increasing and unbridled per-capita consumption, of rampantly expanding economic globalization and of propagating 70 to 75 million newborns per annum, will someone please explain to me how our seemingly endless growth civilization proceeds beyond the end of year 2012.

    According to my admittedly simple estimations, if humankind keeps doing just as it is doing now, without doing whatsoever is necessary to begin modifying the business-as-usual course of our gigantic, endless-growth-oriented global economy, then the Earth could sustain life as we know it for a time period of about 5 more years.

    It appears to me that all the chatter, including that heard in most “normal science” circles, of a benign path to the future by “leap-frogging” through a ‘bottleneck’ to population stabilization, and to good times ahead in 2050, is nothing more than wishful and magical thinking.

    Unfortunately, even top rank scientists have not found adequate ways of communicating to humanity what people somehow need to hear, see and understand: the reckless dissipation of Earth’s limited resources, the relentless degradation of Earth’s frangible environment, and the approaching destruction of the Earth as a fit place for human habitation by the human species, when taken together, appear to be proceeding toward the precipitation of a catastrophic ecological wreckage of some sort unless, of course, the world’s colossal, ever expanding, artificially designed, manmade global economy continues to speed headlong toward the monolithic ‘wall’ called “unsustainability” at which point the runaway economy crashes before Earth’s ecology is collapsed.

    Steven Earl Salmony
    AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population,
    established 2001
    http://sustainabilitysoutheast.org/

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