Emergent Strategy

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Description of Emergent Strategy. Explanation.


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What is Emergence?


Emergent Strategy and Deliberate StrategyIn general, an emergent phenomenon occurs when a (high) number of simple (or complex) entities operate in an environment, forming more complex behaviors as a collective. Emergent behaviors occur due to intricate causal relations across different scales and feedback, known as interconnectivity. The emergent property itself may be either very predictable or unpredictable and unprecedented, and represent a new level of the system's evolution. Emergent behavior is very hard to predict due to the immense number of interactions between components of a system, which increases exponentially with the number of components, thus potentially allowing for many different results to emerge.


Definition Emergent Strategy. Description.


Emergent Strategy is the vision or process towards strategy formation in organizations that emphasizes the benefits of letting the strategy emerge as things gradually becoming apparent. Try before you commit. Strategy is viewed as an ongoing process of constant learning, experimentation and risk-taking. It is an adaptive, incremental and complex learning process in which the ends and means are intertwined and often specified simultaneously. It is the opposite of Deliberate Strategy.

The ends are rarely announced or recorded in a Formal Planning document, and when they are, they remain broad, general and non-quantifiable.

The means develop or evolve over time as the organization learns from environmental developments and interactions.

It does not mean that emergent strategists do nothing upfront and react completely ad-hoc to things as they evolve.

Benefits of emergent strategy formulation. Advantages

  • Opportunism. Organizations must retain the mental freedom to grab unpredictable opportunities as they emerge. See: Scenario Planning

  • Flexibility. Organizations must keep their options open, by not committing to early to actions and investments. See: Real Options, Strategic Agility, Dynamic Capabilities

  • Learning. Letting strategy emerge provides the environment to learn. See: Organizational Learning

  • Entrepreneurship. The best way to find out what will work is to let people try. This is conducive to an entrepreneurial spirit to emerge. See: Chaos Theory

  • Building Support. Major strategic change causes considerable resistance in organizations. So time to build support for it is important. See: Appreciative Inquiry

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Emergent Strategy Special Interest Group

Special Interest Group


Best Practices - Emergent Strategy Premium
  Unrealized Emergent Strategy
Are UNREALIZED emergent strategies still valuable ...

Expert Tips - Emergent Strategy Premium

How to Become a Self-tuning Enterprise: Advanced Experimenters

In an HBR article of June 2015, Reeves, Zeng and V...
Usage (application): Organizational Agility, Strategic Agility, Real Options, Emergent Strategy

Strategic Planning versus Strategic Thinking (Mintzberg)

According to Mintzberg (1994) many people wrongly ...
Usage (application): Strategic Planning, Strategic Thinking, Emergent Strategy, Deliberate Strategy

Entrepreneurial Strategies in Emerging Markets

Chanvatipsakul and Wongsurawat (2013) examined the...
Usage (application): Emergent Strategy, Entrepreneurship, Strategic Innovation

Resources - Emergent Strategy Premium

Two Recent Trends in Leadership

Business thought leader John Spence presents 2 imp...
Usage (application): Leadership Development, Leadership Styles, Coaching, Mentoring, Servant Leadership, Vision, Business Model Innovation

The Nature and Complexity of Organizational Change

Presentation about organizational change. The pres...
Usage (application): Change Management, Organizational Change

Top 5 Strategy Pitfalls

Strategy is complex and companies are making many ...
Usage (application): Strategy Errors, Strategy Traps, Strategy Barriers, Strategic Planning, Strategy Process

Deliberate versus Emergent Strategies

Presentation about deliberate versus emergent stra...
Usage (application): Deliberate Strategy, Emergent Strategy, Strategy Formulation

Henry Mintzberg on Management and Emergent Strategy

McGill Professor Henry Mintzberg shares some backg...
Usage (application): Background on Mintzberg, Emergent Strategy Development.

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Compare with: Deliberate Strategy  |  Logical Incrementalism  |  Strategy Dynamics  |  Chaordic Organization

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