Why Scenario Planning Is A Critical Skill All CIOs Have To Have

by drjim on April 9, 2014

Scenario planning is a skill that every CIO must have

Scenario planning is a skill that every CIO must have
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Risk is a part of every CIO’s standard job description. However, we all find different ways to deal with it. We like to measure risk by measuring uptime, mean time between failures, and other ways that risk can impact the importance of information technology. However, is it possible that we’re missing the most important measurement of all? Could it be that just by keeping things the same in our IT departments we are creating the greatest source of risk for our companies?

The Role Of Scenario Planning

So what’s the real problem here? If you maintain the status quo and the IT departments at your completion continue to surge ahead then it’s all too easy to imagine a future where they will be better than you. Your completion could possibly be using better, cheaper, and faster IT platforms than you are.

As the person with the CIO job, you need to immerse yourself in some scenario planning. Instead of limiting yourself to picturing how you can move your IT department from where it is today to where it could be tomorrow, you need to instead do the opposite. You need to picture where you’d like your IT department to be tomorrow and then determine how you’re going to get there from where you are today.

This means picturing a future where cloud services have taken over. Laptop usage has dropped off and tablets are everywhere. Imagine a world where Microsoft is no longer dominate and instead operating systems such as iOS and Android are what your team is developing applications for.

It’s All About “What If”

In order to do a good job at scenario planning you’re going to have to use the full power of your CIO position. You’ll need to work with your team to truly imagine what the future could look like. This may not be easy to do.

In order to create the picture of what the future could be for your company, you are going to have to ask a lot of “what if” questions. Questions like “what if we moved everything into the cloud?”, “what if everyone worked from home?”, “what if we did away with office phones and everyone used their mobile phones?”

It’s only by asking questions like this that you’re going to be able to start to understand what the future could possibly look like. You’ll need to consider what would happen if you were the first company to make one of these changes. It’s true that you might not be able to make some (or all) of these changes this year, but what about next year or the year after that?

What All Of This Means For You

CIOs have a responsibility to find ways to reduce the level of risk that their IT department and their company are facing. However, it turns out that one of the greatest risks that both are facing comes from doing nothing. Maintaining the status quo opens up the opportunity for the company to fall behind and that’s the biggest risk of all.

In order to find a way to solve this problem, CIOs need to engage in some scenario planning. Picture what you want your IT department to become and then step back in time to determine what you need to do. The right way to go about doing this is to play what-if games. Take the time to answer these questions and you’ll be a step ahead of all of the other CIOs out there.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: What percentage of a CIOs time should be spent working on scenario planning?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Since the cloud is a new and shiny thing in the world of IT departments, we are all excited about it because it now has a lot to do with the importance of information technology. Part of having the CIO job is spending your day thinking about how you can move more of the company’s applications into the cloud. However, it turns out that there is an aspect of this cloud stuff that CIOs have not been spending enough time thinking about: what to do when the relationship is over…

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