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Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning


In many organizations, the role of strategic planning has been criticized and questioned. Mintzberg differentiates strategic planning from strategic thinking. Planning focuses on analysis while thinking is about synthesis. The output of strategic thinking is not a detailed planning document, but an integrated understanding and perspective, a vision of direction. Mintzberg believes that the problem with strategic planning, as practiced, is that it is based on three fallacies:

  1. Prediction is possible.

  2. Strategists can be detached from their strategies.

  3. Making strategy can be formalized. The role of the planners in an organization should be to provide analysis and support for the strategic thinkers in the organization.

Real-Time Strategy: Improvising Team-Based Planning for a Fast- Changing World


The authors present the concept of "strategic improvising" as an alternative to traditional strategic planning. The analogy of a jazz band versus a symphony is used to contrast the two types of planning. Strategic improvising incorporates real-time information into an organization's strategic thinking by:

  1. Widely distributing strategic responsibility in the organization

  2. Giving individuals and teams strategic tools

  3. Promoting team-based actions and learning to support strategic objectives


The authors address common criticisms of strategic planning and show how the methods of strategic improvising can overcome these problems. Chapter 3 on how to clarify an organization's strategic direction and develop strategic objectives contains a very useful presentation of these issues. This book provides some good background for the process of planning to improve quality.

Strategy Pure and Simple


This book is an easy read on strategy and is filled with some good ideas. Robert contrasts his method of strategy (born in the workplace) with other methods that he contends were products of the university environment and hence not as practical as his method. The discussion on driving force for a business is very useful for thinking about the purpose of an organization. The lack of definition of key terms and ideas is a problem. The lack of reference to some good ideas from people in universities may hinder the serious student of strategy and leadership.

Discovering Common Ground: How Future Search Conferences Bring People Together to Achieve Breakthrough Innovation, Empowerment, Shared Vision, and Collaborative Action


Weisbord discusses the innovation of the "Future Search" conference in this volume. This idea was first introduced briefly in his prior work, Productive Workplaces. The concept of the Future Search Conference is a process where the stakeholders of an organization are brought together to consider the past, present and future. From this they brainstorm ideas, discuss and consider the direction of an organization utilizing the knowledge that is in the room. This process depends on the involvement of many people, sometimes 100 or more, and encourages their collective creativity in determining the future.

Sur/Petition: Creating Value Monopolies When Everyone Else Is Merely Competing (Going Beyond Competition)


This book focuses on moving beyond competition to "sur/petition," or value monopolies. De Bono invented the word sur/petition to emphasize the necessity of moving beyond competition. The five concepts discussed in the book are:

  1. Sur/petition (beyond competition)

  2. Integrated Values (the third phase of business)

  3. Valufacture - the Creation and Formation of Values

  4. Concept R&D

  5. Serious Creativity


The concept of integrated values implies that an organization needs to design specific, deliberate, creative thinking techniques. This book has some good ideas about strategy, value,concepts, and creativity that can be incorporated into Quality as a Business Strategy.

Competing on Capabilities: The New Rules of Corporate Strategy


The premise in this paper is that success in today's dynamic business environment depends on strategies that anticipate market trends and changing customer needs. Thus the essence of strategy is not the structure of the company's products, services, and markets, but how it behaves. An organization must weave its key business processes into hard-to-imitate strategic capabilities that distinguish it from its competitors in the eyes of its customers. A "capability" is usually cross-functional and a collection of various processes. Competing on capabilities requires strategic investment in support systems that go across organizational boundaries and functions.

Strategic Choices, Supremacy, Survival, Or Sayonara


The approach to planning in this book was developed by the authors during their work with IBM. They emphasize a cooperative rather than "top-down" approach to planning and implementation. The approach includes formulating a strategic vision, developing strategies and tactics to implement the vision, and achieving competitive advantage through implementation. The process to develop a vision includes understanding innovation through technology, exploiting industry experience curves, and the concept of an extended enterprise. This later concept brings in the idea of linkages in the organization. While the authors claim to have a "revolutionary new approach" to planning, they do not differentiate planning to improve and planning to operate the organization. The approach includes the very traditional step from strategy to action plans, but they do not discuss the "how" part of specific action plans or allocation of resources for improvement.

The Art of the Long View: Planning for the Future in an Uncertain World


This book presents an approach to planning and decision using "scenarios." Schwartz developed this approach while working at Shell with some of the same individuals that Senge worked with in writing the Fifth Discipline. He formalizes a natural process to think about the future with the following steps:

  1. Identify the focal issue or decision

  2. Identify key forces in the local environment affecting the decision

  3. List driving forces in the macro environment

  4. Rank factors by importance and uncertainty

  5. Select scenario logics

  6. Flesh out the scenarios

  7. Study implications of the scenarios on the focal issue

  8. Select leading indicators to identify which scenario is happening


The book presents three scenarios to describe the world in 2005 at the macro level, and a number of scenario exercises carried out for organizations.

Strategic Leadership: The Missing Links


This book emphasizes the need for management to lead the strategic planning process with a focus on the use of technology for strategic advantage. The book is replete with many diagrams, charts, and tables to highlight the material presented. In addition, the authors supply many questions that would be useful in the planning process or to assist a group in creating a vision statement. These questions could also be arranged to "audit" the planning process.

Mind of the Strategist: Business Planning for Competitive Advantage


Ohmai is a noted business consultant. This book was published during the period that the business press was being deluged by books and articles on the Japan, Inc. and the theme of the perceived superiority of Japanese business practices. Ohmai's principle message in this book is that successful business strategies result not from rigorous analysis but from a particular state of mind, or what Ohmai calls the mind of the strategist.
The author makes extensive use of models, tables and pictures to bring home the ideas of strategic thinking.

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