Styles of Strategic Development

Understanding Strategic Developments

The FINNA concept understands that the development of strategy can be explained in several ways. Most people make sense of complex situations in more than one way… but if you look at this way… is often heard spoken. It’s fair to say however that taking just one view on a complex situation leads to partial at best and almost certainly biased understanding.

So how does FINNA see strategy development? The answer of course is that strategy is a complex thing and should be seen from as many aspects as possible.

The deliberate positioning of the organisation as a result of analysis and structured critical thinking; the approach best described as Strategy by Design.

This approach is typified by objective setting and planning systems but as a means of ‘managing the design of strategy’. Strategy in this case is a managed process. Complexity is confronted by organised thinking and logical responses. Management control is at the heart of the Design approach.

The Design approach seeks to satisfy the human deep rooted need to control the ‘mess of the environment we find ourselves in’. For those who depend or largely rely on this way of developing strategy even when the unplanned happens there is a deep force within them to believe that what happens was indeed planned.

The approach of developing strategy from experience or Strategy by being Adaptive is equally used as a means of developing strategies.

This approach largely accepts that coherent strategies dealing with the future may or even should be purposely vague and may not be pre-planning in a grand way. Strategy therefore is incremental, each strategic choice building on what has gone before. As time passes strategy creeps to meet the organisational and environmental need of the organisation and over a long period of time the strategy of the organisation may be radically different to what was first thought.

It’s the ‘taken for granted’ assumptions affected by change that leads to development of strategy in this approach.

It’s probably widely accepted that we are surrounded by diversity and variety which affects strategic direction. So the third way of looking at strategy development as Strategy through Innovation.

Innovation can come from anywhere in the organisation, it can strike an any time and at any level and so is unpredictable but often exciting when it does happen. Innovative ideas are often ill-formed and need interpretation so a sense of ready for the intelligent but messy idea is a must.

Organisations that are operating in more than one and often several sectors will develop different business areas at different speeds. The organisations over time will become fragmented in approach but are non-the-less more diverse leading generally to more innovation.

But FINNA warns that whilst on the face of it this may look like a great way of developing strategy for organisations to function effectively the flow of ideas must be filtered but the good news is that often times the organisational culture will act as the filter. Self-interested managers may bloc the more novel ideas but for those organisations open and accepting of new ideas this sort of strategy development works very well.

Which or probably more correctly which mix of strategy development you choose will be as a result of how the organisation functions but to summarise;

Strategy Development Through…
Design Adaptive Innovation
Summary Rational thinking, structured approach Incremental development based on past experiences Order and innovation comes from diversity and variety in and around the organisation
The Job of the Top Mgmt Strategic decision makers, top down in style Collators and enactors of the organisational experience Act as ‘coach’ to the creators of new ideas
Implications Change is known and planned Major change is resisted but change is incremental in nature Innovations allows and encourages change both incremental and sudden
Underpinnings Economic decision making and known sciences Culture and psychology Complexity and evolution

Thank you for reading this post and I hope you get something from it.

Philip

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