The Subtle Art of Strategy: Organizational Planning in Uncertain Times

The Subtle Art of Strategy: Organizational Planning in Uncertain Times

The Subtle Art of Strategy: Organizational Planning in Uncertain Times

The Subtle Art of Strategy: Organizational Planning in Uncertain Times

Synopsis

Strategy- and the planning that created it- has too often failed to deliver its promised results. The reasons for this failure are many and varied, but include an over-reliance on the next big thing in strategic methodology, a failure to recognize and deal with the total change that strategy requires in an organization, and an inability to deal with uncertainty. Wilson argues that strategy is a subtle and demanding art, far more than it is a science or a methodology.

• To succeed in dealing with complex, interacting forces inside and outside the organization, strategy must:

• Deal with the totality of the organization in the context of its total environment (not just one function or one facet of the organization)

• Learn to harness the power of opposites (the sometimes conflicting objectives of the organization, e.g., the long term and short term; vision and execution; economic constraints and social responsibility)

• Deal constructively with pervasive uncertainty in its future

• Develop a strategic vision

• Create a culture that fosters a strategic mindset throughout the organization.

Without constant change and adaptation, a strategy will fail. Continuing success depends, therefore, upon constant learning from customers, competitors, changes in our environment, and our own mistakes.

Excerpt

Already I can imagine some of the cries of outrage that will greet the publication of this volume: [Oh, no! Not another book on strategic planning!] Indeed the literature on the subject is already vast, diverse, and confusing. Since the 1970s, in books, articles, conferences, and seminars, we have been treated to a bewildering array of theories and methodologies, each of which has been advanced by its author as the royal road to strategy. In their own book on the subject, Strategy Safari: A Guided Tour through the Wilds of Strategic Management, Henry Mintzberg and his coauthors identified 10 different schools of thought. They assert that strategy is our elephant and we are all like blind men, believing that the part we have seized on is the whole.

But strategy requires that we look at the whole, for we are dealing with the totality of the organization in the context of its total environment. Strategy is, or should be, concerned with integrating every function and every facet of an organization into a coherent whole, driven by a central dynamic, and shaped by its response to the whole array of forces—economic, competitive, social, political, and technological—that form the arena in which it operates. It is in this sense that we can safely assert that strategy is, or should be, holistic.

As I point out in chapter 4, strategy is concerned with harnessing an array of opposites and seeming contradictions—the long term and the short term; vision and execution; external relationships and internal operations; and economic constraints and social purpose. As such, it . . .

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