Organisational Change Management Volume 1

Strategic Planning

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(it can be an example of active inertia and status quo thinking)

"...Through your excellent series on current practice of strategic planning runs a common thread: the endless quest for a paint-by-numbers approach, which automatically gives answers. Yet that pursuit continually fails.

Von Clausewitz summed up what it has all been about in his classic On War. Men could not reduce strategy to a formula. Detailed planning necessarily failed, due to the inevitable frictions encountered: chance events, imperfections in execution, and the independent will of the opposition. Instead, human elements were paramount: leadership, morale and the almost instinctive savvy of the best generals.

The Prussian general staff, under the elder Von Moltke, perfected these concepts in practice. They did not expect planned operations to survive beyond the first encounter with the enemy. They set the broadest of objectives and emphasized seizing unforeseen opportunities as they arose......Strategy was not a lengthy action plan. It was the evolution of a central idea through continually changing circumstances.

Business and war may differ in objectives and codes of conduct. But both involve facing the independent will of other parties. Any cookbook approach is powerless to cope with independent will, or with the unfolding situations of the real world..."

A Bendix planning manager in the Fortune Magazine (1980s) as quoted by Jack Welch et al, 2001

Furthermore, it has been argued that the world has changed and today dynamic businesses are more about bottom-up creativity and less rigid hierarchies. Thus most likely the next big break will come from a frustrated customer rather than a carefully thought out strategy. This is linked with the value and unpredictability of people's creativity. In other words, the theory of strategic planning does not translate well in the creative economy, and even acts as a deterrent to new thinking and innovation as it imposes a rigid and inflexible framework. On the other hand, it is claimed that free-form, chaotic organisations are not necessarily more creative than the tight, strategically-directed ones. As Michael Porter (2007) observes,

"...strategy acts an important way of improving the function and efficiency of the business - which in turn has repercussions for innovation: when you have a well functioning organisation, you hopefully create a fertile environment. I don't think creativity comes from chaos, but from challenges and sophisticated customers who teach you. A lot of clear strategic thinking and she draws competition, although there are always going to be unexpected developments and discontinuities in a competitive marketplace..."

as quoted by Catherine Fox, 2007b


"...real strategy lies not in figuring out what to do, but in devising ways to ensure that, compared to others, we actually do more of what everyone knows they should do..."

David Maister, 2008

(sources: Jack Welch et al, 2001; Catherine Fox. 2007b; David Maister, 2008)

Some Relevant Definitions

Homeostasis = seeking to

"...maintain a state of constancy in spite of the ever-changing landscape outside to which it responds..."

Robert Winston, 2003

In other words, sticking to status quo and keeping to old habits

Psychosclerious = hardening of attitudes with rigidity in thinking and refusal to think of alternatives: "black and white" thinking with no shades of grey, either/or thinking

CAVE = Citizens Against Virtually Everything

PDCA = Please Don't Change Anything (it does not mean Plan-Do-Check-Act)

BOHICA = Bend Over Here It Comes Again

Definition of insanity = doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result!!!!!

MEGO = My Eyes Glaze Over

MITFY = Me Too I Follow You

VUCA = Volatile, Uncertain, Complex & Ambiguous

FUBAR = F--k Up Beyond All Recognition


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