Academic journal article SA Journal of Human Resource Management

A Change Navigation-Based, Scenario Planning Process within a Developing World Context from an Afro-Centric Leadership Perspective

Academic journal article SA Journal of Human Resource Management

A Change Navigation-Based, Scenario Planning Process within a Developing World Context from an Afro-Centric Leadership Perspective

Article excerpt

Introduction

The speed, scope and complexity of discontinuous change have increased dramatically in the last 20 years (Blickle & Witzki, 2008; Legrain, 2010; Meyer & Boninelli, 2004; Van Tonder, 2004; Veldsman, 2002; 2008). Deciding whether or not to change is a luxury ill afforded by organisations. These turbulent and radically changing circumstances faced by organisations are rendering existing approaches to organisational success less effective, or even obsolete. However, many leaders still are still driving their organisations into the future whilst metaphorically looking into a rear-view mirror of approaches that may have worked well in the past but may no longer be fit for purpose (Veldsman, 2002; Weeks, 1990).

One example of a management tool (or methodology) that may be in need of rethinking is strategic planning (Veldsman, 2007) with 'management tool' referring to a formalised process of doing things in an organisation. Mintzberg (1994) is even of the view that strategic planning is an outdated and non-value adding management tool. In contrast, Veldsman (2007) argues that strategy crafting has a place but needs to be re-invented for a newly emerging world order. The assumptions underlying the conventional strategic planning paradigm state that organisations are like intricate, mechanical clockworks operating in a setting that can be determined, objectively assessed and predicted by experts, the so-called Newtonian world view. However, it can be argued that in the hyper turbulent context faced currently by organisations, requiring a complexity chaos view of reality, more flexible strategic planning approaches such as scenario planning which take into account a more comprehensive range of possible future scenarios, will position organisations better than conventional forecast efforts that depend only on a single, linearly extrapolated, strategic response (Steil & Gibbons-Carr, 2005; Veldsman, 2002).

Scenario-based planning allows emerging signals of change to be detected much earlier than conventional strategic planning. In addition, multiple perspectives on complex events, knowledge and experience can be woven into coherent, systematic and plausible stories to construct possible futures (April, 1999; Bood & Postma, 1998; Steil & Gibbons-Carr, 2005). The generation of future based thinking frameworks through scenario planning by means of which mental models, assumptions and key decisions can be wind tunnelled for their robustness, serves as a continuous learning tool in this way giving organisations and its leadership a more sustainable competitive edge (Nell, 1999). It therefore appears reasonable to assume that an appropriately designed, scenario-based planning process as a management tool seems more in tune with the current and future expected context characterised by profound, ongoing and unpredictable change.

Within a globalising world with disappearing boundaries (the so-called emergent post-modern world), the further question of particular importance is the validity of management tools developed in and for use in essentially an Anglo-Saxon context, such as scenario planning, indiscriminately applied in different contexts (e.g., developing countries or different industries). This question becomes even more pressing if the debate of the relevancy of a Western versus Afro-centric leadership across the divide of developed versus developing countries (or called emerging economies in some quarters) is also introduced into this contextual validity debate (Mangaliso & Damane, 2001; Mbigi, 1997; 2000; 2005).

The random migration of developed world strategic management tools, such as scenario-based planning, from one context to another without testing for contextual validity could be a high risk event (Parker and Veldsman, 2010; Veldsman, 2002). For example, Parker and Veldsman (2010) have empirically shown that the criteria for world class organisations differ across developed and developing countries. …

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