Despite the fact that the literature on strategic planning has diminished considerably in the last fifteen years or so, still most organisations do it. So argues a recent article in the Journal of Management Studies by Jarzabkowski and Balogun. It has become what GH Mead would term a social object, and in terms of the social game of organisational practice lots of people do it because lots of people do it. Strategic planning still has its academic adherents, but probably the scholar who has done most to drive a stake through its heart is the Canadian academic Henry Mintzberg. With his two books The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning and Strategy Safari the second written with two colleagues, he has done more than most to call the practice into question.
Equally Ralph Stacey, from a complexity perspective, has argued that strategic planning must serve some other purpose than being a means of predicting and controlling since they so signally fail to do so in an unpredictable world. Most organisations seem to get by despite their strategic plans rather than because of them. At his most laconic Stacey has considered strategic plans to be like an organisational rain dance.
So what is going on in organisations when people are trying to plan strategically and what kind of thinking do they get caught up in? Continue reading