Strategy, Planning, Emergence

April 30, 2013 6 Comments

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I spend a lot of time figuring out how to work with emergence.  You don’t plan emergence, you create the conditions for emergence.  But how does that fit with strategy?  How do you do strategic planning in a world that is too complex for straight lines and long timelines?

I think you still plan.  But you relate to plans differently.  Strategic planning has long been a core strength of ours at IISC.  Our collaborative methodology and our commitment to stakeholder engagement make us strong partners in defining strategies that aim for justice.  We do this planning work while intentionally nurturing networks of relationships that tend to outlive any specific planning process.  Some of the more interesting projects we get to work on are projects that emerged as a byproduct of a specific planning process.

For example, we were asked to design and facilitate the process of developing a government’s agenda for the integration of immigrants into a state.  We got the agenda done – the plan.  We intentionally nurtured a network of relationships among the immigrant serving institutions that were part of crafting the plan.  These relationships have already outlived the plan.  These individuals are better able to collaborate in more nimble ways because we intentionally created the conditions that would yield the important work that could not have been foreseen at the time.

Recently I was asked to speak about IISC’s approach to strategic planning to a potential client.  The presentation was very well received and the process inspired me to articulate my own strategic planning practice.  I am setting out to write a series of blog posts looking at strategic planning and at the ways in which IISC’s approach meets the realities of a complex and unpredictable world.

My intention is to turn these blog posts into an eBook that takes a closer look at strategic planning in a complex world.  I’m inviting you and specially my colleagues here at IISC to jump into the discussion and help give shape to our evolving practice.

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