The Paradox of Deliberate and Emergent Strategy

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The Paradox of Deliberate and Emergent Strategy
Pat Hannon, Lecturer, Ireland

Mintzberg and Waters (1985) state that few strategies were purely deliberate or emergent, but normally a mix of the two is used. Understanding the internal political dynamics of the organisation and detailed analysis of the external environment is essential in shaping strategy. Strategy should be shaped on what is feasible, attainable and not on what is ideal.
Deliberate strategy gives direction and commitment while emergence allows for opportunism, flexibility and ongoing learning. This would suggest that deliberate and emergent strategies are opposite so managers need to choose one strategy at the expense of the other not so.
Managers would like to forecast the future and design plans to to prepare for it. Yet on the other hand some managers believe that experimentation learning and flexibility are needed to deal with the unpredictability of the future. However while implementing deliberate strategies the uncertainty of the environment may throw up emergent strategies. Events overthrow the plan.

Ambidexterity in Strategic Management
Iqbal Hussain, Student (MBA), United Arab Emirates
Ambidexterity is the ability to use both the left and right hand equally.
Organizational ambidexterity refers to an organization’s ability to be efficient in its management of today’s business and also adaptable for coping with tomorrow’s changing demand.
Ambidexterity in Strategic Management is a way of being able to find a balance between deliberate/planned strategy and combining this with emergent strategy. Ambidexterity is relatively new and whilst there is no concrete formulae and or magic pill for how to develop this into an organization - authors tend to describe the characteristics of ambidexterity.
My MBA dissertation titled 'Ambidexterity in Strategic Management a New Perspective' is a case study of a large engineering consultant. Workshops/scenario planning/resource slack/empowerment of the workforce etc. All contribute to creating an environment.

Combining Deliberate AND Emergent Strategy
Vivek Joshi, Investor, India
Emergent Strategy certainly has its merits, particularly in (very) dynamic environments.
But a prerequisite is that a well crafted Deliberate Strategy has already been in place, and a coherence between the DS & ES.
For example, the generic strategy of Differentiation requires strategic fit in organization design, which in turn requires a lot of time and effort. So Emergent Strategy cannot be Differentiation when the business is following a Low Cost generic strategy. We tried it and failed!
A generic strategy of "Simple Steps" has been proposed by researchers, which is close to ES. It is important to appreciate that good ES is different from just good tactics.



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