During the 1960s and the 1970s, “strategic planning” emerged as the model for corporate planning.
By the 1980s, the value of strategic planning began to be called into question, most notably by Jack Welch, the famous CEO of General Electric. Welch boldly eliminated his once acclaimed planning department, believing it had lost touch with both the organization and the real world.
By the early 1990s, management guru Tom Peters delivered the death blow to strategic planning with his shocking dictum that “Strategic Planning is Dead.” Things were changing too fast for planning. We couldn’t see into the future so why plan for it? Ivory tower thinking clearly could not be implemented. Given their dramatic impact on profitability, “reengineering,” “downsizing,” and “rightsizing” became the rage. Then, as the dot coms emerged, “business models” seemed to be the new strategic wave.
Today, after the failure of the “business-model-as-strategy,” and the optimization of production and efficiency initiatives, strategy is reemerging as high level creative thinking. Today, strategy is the new wave in corporate planning to address the need for growth, profitability, and sustainable competitive advantage.
With rapid change and increasing uncertainty, leaders need new strategies to stay at the front of change and win against competition. Enterprises committed to thinking strategically optimize their ability to shape and leverage change to their advantage. Because neither a business model nor efficiency initiatives can provide a sustainable competitive advantage, wise leaders are re-valuing the role of creative, strategic thinking.
Today the outcome of strategic thinking is no longer a neatly bound plan, written in stone, and placed on the shelf for occasional reference. It is a creative, intelligent readiness, built upon an awareness of market realities, organizational competencies, and brand equities. It is supported with far-sighted vision, strategic flexibility, contingency thinking, and it is situated to change as the changes emerge.
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