The application of Edge of Chaos in Scenario Planning practices for ICT sector

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Contributors

Toon Abcouwer

by Jolanta Wos

Linking Chaos Theory to Scenario Planning

Abstract

In today’s increasingly complex environment, one is faced with tendency on relying on the best practices of the past in order to ensure the future corporate success. Every effort is spent in order to strive for yet increased efficiency, effectiveness and productivity. However, the nature of the current business environment demands seems not only to have changed dramatically but also to have become subject to erratic fluctuations. Under such circumstances the application of the already known and extensively tested for security previous deployed business techniques appears to be out of the question. This holds true of all walks of enterprise, but is especially evident in the rapidly altering sector of Information and Communication Technology (ICT). Subsequently, the historically advocated effort to retain equilibrium may not be advisable at all times.
To this effect, a study has been devised with a view to probing into the currently implemented scenario planning methodology and the possibility of revitalising its inherent structure with disruptive tactics related to chaos theory. Following an extensive study on the available body of knowledge pertaining to both fields, it was deemed necessary to investigate the potential benefits as well as shortcomings of engaging edge of chaos practices within scenario planning methodology in ICT sector. Interviews with experts in this area have been carried out to understand the existence of a need for alternative approach and the readiness as well as willingness to accept one. These interviews resulted in extensive insights which have been analysed in detail with the use of qualitative methods. Subsequently, this analysis has led to astute confirmation of the tendency to misplace innovative business practices in traditional working structures. Scenario planning practices have been initially developed as a proactive method to prepare a firm to confront the increasing demands of the highly fluctuating business environment and as such it was meant to be applied in companies of vertical structural arrangement. If these tactics are to be implemented in current corporate arrangements, adjustments should be made to render it applicable in more flat configurations, resembling that of organic network. It does not only constitute presently surfacing trend but also one that has every likelihood to become prevailing. Therefore, introduction of the edge of chaos methods in scenario planning framework aims at reinvigorating a company while concurrently stimulating innovative thinking. In order to accommodate such disruptive scheme, it is not merely creativity that is being inspired but also widespread dedication needs to be ensured. This can be achieved by personalising the ownership of the issue as well as the solution and secondly by allowing the employees the freedom to experiment and propose an pioneering way out.
Furthermore, it needs to be stated that even companies that are at present in their equilibrium state, enjoying well deserved outcomes of their past efforts, are hardly in a position to perpetuate the status quo indefinitely if they only resort to incremental improvements. At this point, one may wonder why an already established company would be interested in intentionally departing from its comfort zone towards the unpredictability of chaos. It is imperative to elucidate that mere reliance on the current business outcomes cannot guarantee long term success or even survival. In the face of the existing fluctuating corporate environment, best practices of the past may no longer lead to the expected results in the future. Provided that the actual business settings are exemplified by high volatility, such should be the underlying nature of the selected means of response.
As most of the hierarchically organised enterprises find it extremely challenging to endeavour such a mindset shift, especially since they feel they have secured their business position, this research has been inscribed in the logic of the Adaptive Cycle, positing the inevitability of change, even if a firm holds a strong equilibrium status at present. Moreover, it positions the application of edge of chaos practices in the scenario planning methodology in the passage between the stability of equilibrium towards the turmoil of crisis, concurrently emphasising the benefits of such an audacious decision. Utilising the insights gained from the conducted interviews, it provides sufficient reasons for a company to select management from the edge of chaos within scenario planning methodology for ICT sector in order to revitalise innovative thinking and ensure long-term survival. While advocating this approach, it proposes and discusses various traits of team arrangement approaches, namely synchronisation and emergence, with a view to focusing on the outcomes the latter as more advantageous in the world heading from excessive control towards self-organisation.
Keywords:
Scenario Planning, Chaos Theory, Edge of Chaos, Synchronisation, Emergence, Self-organisation, Equilibrium vs. Crisis, Adaptive Cycle, ICT sector, alternative means of business conduct, disruptive methodology


Research Question:

Why should a company choose management from the Edge of Chaos in the Scenario Planning process for ICT sector within highly volatile business environment in the context of the Adaptive Cycle?
File Download : Thesis Jolanta Wos

Contributors

Toon Abcouwer