Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Blog Post 3, Quick as a Hiccup: Strategic Agility

I am posting the following article because I don’t like it. This may seem counterintuitive to how things have been done normally in these blogs (at least for me) but sometimes hearing or reading something one doesn’t agree with is just as effective at teaching as hearing the correct answer. Arguing (debating for the more PC crowd) can do wonders for a person’s rational thought process as they must justify their position in order to stand a chance in the, “debate”. Why do I feel the need to post an article I don’t like written by an author I’d like to debate? Because I found it thought provoking, even if it wasn’t for the reasons intended by the author.

The article is entitled “Shifting From Strategic Planning to Strategic Agility” and is written by Holly G. Green. The basic gist of the article is that Ms. Green feels that traditional strategic planning has gone the way of the dinosaur and must be replaced by what she calls, “strategic thinking”. “Strategic thinking, engages other parts of our brain in synthesizing in addition to analyzing. It uses intuition, creativity and “what if?” questioning to pull together an integrated perspective from a wide variety of data sources and creates a vision of where the organization needs to go”. Green goes on to explain in further detail strategic thinking and how it’s supposed to be done.

I suppose my biggest issue with the article is that Green feels strategic planning should be done away with completely in favor of a daily strategic thinking mindset. This is where I think she’s wrong. Strategic planning isn’t necessarily outdated or archaic; it just isn’t used properly. Strategic planning (when used properly) gives an organization direction and helps it stick to its long term mission, vision and goals. If we were to remove such a tool organizations would be nomads of sorts, grasping on to the next big idea without much of plan on how to utilize it beyond the next big idea. Green basically invites this notion within the article by essentially imploring businesses to stray from the path early and often. I would argue that doing this sort of thing too often, even in the context of the same goal removes focus. Constantly changing directions forces people to think differently than they did before and even more differently than they did before that. Eventually employees become lost as to what they’re doing choosing to instead choosing to focus on getting acclimated to the new direction, losing sight of the ultimate goal, whatever it may be.

Green and I do not entirely disagree though; I think she just takes her claims too far. This week’s article entitled, “Competing through organizational agility” defines strategic agility as, “the capacity to identify and capture opportunities more quickly than rivals do” claiming that it, “consists of spotting and seizing game-changing opportunities”. Based on this I would argue that Green’s notion of strategic thinking is spot on, if used in conjunction with strategic planning. Businesses should use the plan to give themselves direction. To me strategic thinking/agility allows us to identify and capitalize on new opportunities while strategic planning allows us to choose the right opportunities for our business and maximize their potential long-term. Who knows? Maybe I’m entirely wrong. But if I am maybe I was at least able to provoke some thought in others.

What do you think? Is strategic Planning dead?

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