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The Strategy Paradox

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The Strategy Paradox

Why Committing to Success Leads Corporations to Failure (And What to Do About It)

Broadway Books,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Text available

What's inside?

Why commit to one future when you can prepare yourself for several?

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Have you spent hours creating forecasts you knew didn’t mean much? Have you wasted time in painful meetings where second-guessers judged your efforts harshly because your original decision was not perfect in light of the way reality later unfolded? Michael E. Raynor explains why developing a strategy that would work moderately well under a variety of circumstances is likely to lead to mediocre results. Instead, he teaches you to match the appropriate level of management to the “requisite uncertainties” your organization faces. Raynor discusses how to use “strategic options” to put your company in a position to capitalize on a range of contingent scenarios without having to make firm commitments. getAbstract recommends this intelligent approach to business strategy to executives in any industry. It is clearly written and well-illustrated with new takes on familiar business sagas.


What’s So Paradoxical About Strategy?

The future is unlikely to arrive in the shape and form you expect, but winning strategies tend to work only under very specific conditions that may change – either quickly or slowly – over time. If you guess right, you win. If you guess wrong, you lose. That is the “strategy paradox.”

To manage this dilemma, use the principle of “requisite uncertainty.” Rather than assuming that the future will definitely look one certain way or another, prepare for uncertainties. To plan for an acknowledged unpredictable future, use “strategic flexibility” to create and implement strategy that lets you keep various “strategic options” open. Then, you can layer your company’s risk management over time. To handle strategic uncertainty, each management level deals with gradations in the time horizon: Lower management looks at the tactical short term; higher executives look at the strategic long term.

Planning Is Essential Even If Plans Are Useless

Sony’s failure with the Betamax VCR was the unfortunate fruit of an all-or-nothing strategy coupled with bad luck. The safe road isn’t really safe, because mediocre performance inevitably ...

About the Author

Michael E. Raynor, Ph.D., is a distinguished fellow at Deloitte Consulting and has a global client base.

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