Sense-and-Adjust – and Create

It Makes Sense to Adjust in strategy+business describes a simple process that any decently-led organisation should be using:

  1. “sensing” to detect changes and assess their likely impact, then
  2. “adjusting” policies to keep the strategy and performance on track.

Some sensible examples illustrate the approach, such as anticipating staffing needs in a cyclical business – though one wonders what on earth the companies discussed were doing before if they didn’t do this! It contrasts sense-and-adjust with reactive styles (do nothing until forced to) and programmatic change (keep changing as you planned, regardless of changed circumstances).

The article unfortunately misses the “Create” step – strong firms don’t just ‘sense’ the environment to see what might happen to them; they decide how they want their world to change and make it happen. This may be radical innovation, but is more likely to be just the relentless pursuit of known resource- and capability-building. 

Shame, too, to see these sound basics of strategy buried in more nonsense about ‘constant transformation’ with the unsubstantiated claim that “… companies must be ready to repeatedly transform themselves” and that “A review of businesses faced with burning platforms (enterprise-threatenting events) would reveal that most have failed to make the transformations required”. Sense-and-adjust is just the minimum of decent strategic management, and if properly performed would avoid most burning platforms in the first place.

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