Is Strategy Development a Chaotic Process?

Strategy and Innovation

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Ken Gordon
Strategy Consultant, United Kingdom

Is Strategy Development a Chaotic Process?

According to Stacey (1993) 'organisations are complex adaptive systems and the patterns in the actions of organisations, which are their strategies, emerge unpredictably in self organising processes.' This accords with a view of 'strategy development' as both predetermined (through strategic planning) AND simultaneously emergent. Is this emergent element influencing change on the predetermined strategy according to the realities experience, therefore 'chaotic'?
Furthermore, communication of the strategic intent acts as the conduit (delivery) and the narrative (content) of the implementation/manifestation of the strategy (patterns in action) or 'strategic development'.
Is this 'where the rubber meets the road'? Is this the place where effects easily lose their perceivable association with causes (Stacey 1993), 'the edge of equilibrium'?
The use of formal or informal frameworks will only be as effective as management's ability to continuously translate the strategic plans (both business and IT) and their inherent complexities into communicable narrative. If that (strategic) narrative is open to amendment, as a result of environmental shocks, would the process be best described as 'chaotic'?
Reference: Stacey, R.D. (1993), "Strategic Management and Organizational Dynamics", Pitman.

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