SYSTEMS THINKING FOR STRATEGIC DEVELOPMENT

Amanda Gregory

Abstract


In this paper important ontological questions are raised about the strategic development process and related concepts which should significantly affect how strategy is approached both in theory and in practice.

The dominant discourse on strategic development and management views the organization as possessing a brain and hence being capable of knowing its range of possible futures, making decisions and taking actions in the present to bring about the most desired state. By making this view of the organization problematic and not giving the ontological status ascribed to it by the traditional paradigm, we are required to look anew at the development and management of strategy. An alternative route, following Henderson and Heidegger, is to view the organization and authentic strategy as acts of individual will and social becoming based on the structures of attunement, standing, discourse and destiny. Since traditional forms of strategic management are not able to bring about the structures necessary to support the creation of authentic strategy or shared destiny, these are rejected in favour of a systems based approach. Espejo’s concept of self-constructed organization recognizes that organizations are constituted by complex networks of ongoing interactions and it is proposed that in such organizations the strategic development process can be designed to enable reflective organizational stakeholder engagement and self-construction. An on-going project with an independent school foundation in the United Kingdom illustrates the use of the ideas in practice.

Keywords


Strategic management; strategic development; systems; ontology; self-constructed systems.

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