Managing messes

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Making the Most of Mess suggests we manage strategy/policy the same way control engineers manage complex physical systems … which is exactly what system dynamics has made possible for the last 50 years, since it is precisely the use of control-theory principles for understanding and managing social systems. It has its limits but we can go a long, long way …

We may need first to clarify what we mean by “mess”. I haven’t been all through the book, but ...

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Strategy algorithms beat judgement

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HBR explains how judgement underperforms simple algorithms for many issues – strategy algorithms exist, at least implicitly.

Recent decades have seen human intuition progressively replaced with proven rules, procedures or algorithms for increasingly complex tasks. Long ago, truck deliveries were scheduled by the logistics manager, and airline prices set by pricing staff – both are now automated. And this phenomenon now goes on to more subtle issues, such as bank credit scores, and marketing tactics driven by behavioural insights from big ...

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Strategy isn’t “messy”

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… and there are general insights. Just jumped on another claim that strategy is too complex,  subtle and case-specific to understand or learn about. (I hope the link works – it’s a LinkedIn discussion in The Strategy Bureau group under “Should strategy be taught like medicine?”)

The first claim was that “strategic” means, by definition, messy – I don’t see why. An issue, initiative, plan or whatever is strategic if it will likely make a significant difference to the medium- ...

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The Extra-Rational Manager

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This MIT-Sloan piece hints at help with understanding business dynamics. Much of a business model is typically simple – the causality of the Income Statement, the productivity of equipment or staff, etc. The accumulation of resources is completely deterministic, and many changes in those are simply decisions we take – add equipment, launch products, borrow cash.
All of which leaves the question “If so much is clearly determined, where lies the uncertainty that makes performance so difficult to ...

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Strategy is not an Art!

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Every statement ‘Strategy is an art, not a science‘ knocks back any chance of being taken seriously by management colleagues.

Some such statement comes up on just about every strategy discussion group I follow, but it’s a false dichotomy, and untrue in any case. The ‘Picasso’ analogy is a nonsense – not only is every work by true artists highly creative, but every brush-stroke is too.

Creativity is a minuscule element in strategy – spotting some business idea that no-one else has ...

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