I listen to NPR on my way to work. Today, as part of the coverage of the impending Supreme Court ruling on the healthcare law, there was a really interesting segment on how the Supreme Court Justices decide cases.
More than a decade ago, The Cutter Business Technology Council decided to employ this same method, and thus the Cutter Council Opinions were born. (Here’s a sample Opinion on cloud computing.) In a nutshell, the Council Fellows begin with a simple Assertion, capturing a specific nascent trend. The team debates the idea, and if it still stands after this first round, its champion writes a Syllabus describing the idea in more detail and sketching out his or her rationale. From there, the author develops a full opinion — a detailed case for why such a scenario is likely to develop, and why the trend is likely to be important. Next, the opinions are circulated among Council Fellows and invited contributors who may elect to Concur (join) or Dissent, providing their reasoning, along with the assumptions behind their reasons. As a result, readers of the Opinion know where each individual stands on the import of the trend. Also embedded in the Opinion is advice on strategies you might consider to get ahead of the trend.
The methodology has proven to be effective at uncovering nascent trends. The Cutter Council was ahead of the curve on new models of software delivery, distance learning, organizational agility, and more. If you think you sense something bubbling up, let us know — it might be something the Council wants to debate!