Want to 'disrupt' your IT department? Here are a couple of tips

There's good disruption and bad disruption. Good disruption gets people to open their eyes to new futures.

Innovation is now an overused word, and is sooo 2009. Let's talk about the next step: disruption.

Of course, disruption means many things, both bad and good -- as in bad and good cholesterol. Bad disruption in the sense that many attempts to improve IT -- such as an upgrade -- may be disruptive to the business, and users' sense of order in the world.

Then there's good disruption, as in the kind that turns business thinking completely on its head, and like a slap upside the head, gets people to open their eyes to new markets and new possibilities.

Like all parts of the business, IT departments could use a good disruption now and then. Service oriented architecture was and is such a disruptive force, since it enables IT managers to break down applications into services that can be reused in a more abstract way. Cloud is a disruptive force, as it opens the door to services delivered from outside parties as well as from the internal data center.

Beyond technology, management mindsets need to be disrupted as well. HP's Keith Macbeath recently suggested two ways to stir up disruptive thinking in the enterprise IT departments:

Take a future-back approach: No, you don't need a flux capacitator for this -- Macbeath sugegst asking four basic questions:

  1. Where do we need to be in three years in terms of our performance?
  2. What would that state mean in terms of how we do things?
  3. How does that look compared with where we are today?
  4. What’s the gap?

Engage in scenario planning: "Scenario planning requires you to think laterally about the future, creating multiple potential scenarios," says Macbeath. For this exercise, bring in external sources, interview people in different domains and get as many different perspectives as possible, he advises. You will end up wiith multiple scenarios, and you need to pick the top three. "Frame them, create a story about them, give them names and describe what they look like," Macbeath says. "Then you identify what each scenario would do to you as an organization and how you could respond." The resulting frame of reference will better prepare the IT department and organization to be prepared for anything.

These are two solid suggestions to disrupt staid ways of doing things -- and Macbeath's advice could easily be applied to departments outside of IT as well. Additional suggestions for disruptive thinking are welcome.

(Photo: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook.)