Thursday, March 29, 2007

The factors/parameters (inside&outside the organization) that affect/enhance/obstruct/d... strategic plan?

There's plenty of material out there but I'm not sure how much will effectively address your question.

Strategic planning evolved as a management tool in the middle of the last century, before IT and at a time when, generally, the cycle times of social activity were relatively slow. In these circumstances it was easier to make assumptions about how conditions might evolve and plan accordingly. There was still a significant risk that assumptions would prove incorrect but there was also time to adjust the strategy and reconfigure the plans.

Cycle times are now much shorter - instantaneous information transfer and 24-hours-to-anywhere movement of people and material. The information can be correct or incorrect, benevolent or malicious, and the materials can be nutritious or toxic and the people can be benevolent or malevolent. All social systems can change for the better or the worse very quickly.

As a consequence it must be possible for strategies and plans to be reformulated on the fly. To the extent there is separation in time and space between the planners and the implementers, there will be less responsiveness leading to more lost opportunity and more unforeseen consequences. (The Iraq story is, unfortunately, a fine example.)

A leader now has to be able to make decisions with respect for both near and long-term objectives/effects. That distinction is blurring and I advocate that today's leaders be hybrid strategist/tacticians.

If I were researching this subject now it would be with some skepticism and I would tend to look for sources that comprehended chaos theory, emergent systems and so on. Although he has a theoretical, business orientation, my first stop would be the work of Clayton Christensen. For NGOs I would certainly look at the wonderful works of the leaders recognized by the Ashoka organization - they are exemplars of the hybrid strategist/tactician.


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