Covid-19 recovery: A CIO’s playbook

Scenario planning for the next new normal: 7 key questions

Scenario planning is a highly effective approach to objectively preparing for the next and ever-evolving normal. Here's how to get started.

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Technology is on the front lines in today's COVID-19 crisis, and CIOs have a unique opportunity to matter in the face of the biggest challenge they or their companies have ever experienced. Business agility isn't enough: things are moving so fast that CIOs and other business leaders have to be prepared — before the next crisis or emergency happens.  Delays — or worse yet, a "wait and see" attitude — are likely to have costly outcomes, driving some organizations into bankruptcy or hostile acquisitions.

In previous crises, like hurricanes or floods, corporate leadership had a sense of the possible future and could simulate the impacts of that future, noted Paul Krueger, CIO of Poindexter, Inc., at the recent HMG Live! CIO Virtual Summit in Houston.  But it's impossible to predict the uncertainties of the COVID-19 crisis. In response, he says, Poindexter's analysts are applying what-if analyses and creating a variety of scenarios. "We are prioritizing automation projects, RPA, ecommerce, and capabilities to scale," he notes. "We are looking at opportunities to get ahead of the competition."

To adapt, business and IT executives must recognize their own "mental models" and how they see the world — with an awareness of their lack of understanding and limited intuition about the tipping point at which we find ourselves. In our complex world where everything is connected and chain reactions happen routinely, corporate solutions must be holistic and flexible. To lead successfully, executives must account for the whole enterprise and its ecosystems.  

Getting started with scenario planning

Scenario planning is a highly effective approach to objectively preparing for the next and ever-evolving normal. This process can be an eye-opener, but it helps executives to make premeditated, strategic choices at every fork in the road. To begin scenario planning, CIO and IT leaders must address the following key questions:

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