The Big Lie of Strategic Planning, from Roger Martin

This post is a part of our Think Piece series, in which we synthesize and share the most insightful concepts from our favorite books, articles & thought leaders. The following has been modified from the writings of Roger Martin, The Big Lie of Strategic Planning, Harvard Business Review, January 2014. 

“Customers and context are both unknowable and uncontrollable.”

In 1978 Henry Mintzberg published an influential article in Management Science that introduced emergent strategy, a concept he later popularized for the wider nonacademic business audience in his successful 1994 book, The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning. Mintzberg’s insight was simple but indeed powerful. He distinguished between deliberate strategy, which is intentional, and emergent strategy, which is not based on an original intention but instead consists of the company’s responses to a variety of unanticipated events.

Mintzberg’s thinking was informed by his observation that managers overestimate their ability to predict the future and to plan for it in a precise and technocratic way. By drawing a distinction between deliberate and emergent strategy, he wanted to encourage managers to watch carefully for changes in their environment and make course corrections in their deliberate strategy accordingly. In addition, he warned against the dangers of sticking to a fixed strategy in the face of substantial changes in the competitive environment.

THE PROBLEM

In an effort to get a handle on strategy, managers spend thousands of hours drawing up detailed plans that project revenue far into the future. These plans may make managers feel good, but all too often they matter very little to performance. Continue reading

Effective Platforms for Cross-Sector Cooperation , from Otto Scharmer & Katrin Kaufer

This post is a part of our series of Book Summaries, in which we synthesize and share the most insightful concepts from our favorite books. The following has been modified from Otto Scharmer and Katrin Kaufer’s Leading from the Emerging Future, 2013. During a recent Irvine Foundation New Leadership Network convening, David Sawyer read the first two paragraphs from this piece to frame the conversation each morning. 

817N0kBysNL._SL1500_The most significant change at the beginning of this century has been the creation of platforms for cross-sector cooperation that enable change-makers to gather, become aware of, and understand the evolution of the whole system, and consequently to act, build and test prototypes that originate from that shared awareness. And the most important ingredient is always the same: a few fully committed people who would give everything to make it work.

If we want to upgrade our community operating system, we need to start by updating the thinking and awareness that underlies it – the quality of results produced by any system (and any community) depends on the quality of awareness from which people in the system operate. The main leverage you have is the quality of your relationship with the other stakeholders.

And how can we develop the level of awareness and shared understanding that leads to positive outcomes? Continue reading