Strategy-as-process and practice (part 1 of 3): A reflection

Strategy as process and practice calls for a change of perspective in understanding strategy. Through this way of seeing, strategy is no longer something that an organization has, but it is something an organization do. Strategy is no longer exclusive to the top management, but it is widespread to virtually anyone within the organization. Everyone is a potential strategist.

Strategy as practice perspective brings with it a political message: liberation and democratization of every organizational member to make difference. It is an organizational-level acknowledgment of chaos theory, where a flap of a butterfly can cause a hurricane at the other end of the world.

 The power is shifted downstream.

The power is shifted downstream.

Strategy as practice comes with power. But it also pushes the responsibility down where everyone is accountable. It is great, but also scary. Not only for practitioners, but also researchers.

For researchers, strategy as practice perspective means that they need to be aware of whatever is happening within the organization. Be it people’s talk in the corridor, negotiation in the board room, or even a mingle at the coffee table. Remember, strategic actors can be anyone and strategic arenas can be anywhere. It is scary because there are so much that you can get, yet so much that you can lose if you miss one moment.

The key, then, is to capture the fluidity, the tension, the flow. Hence, time dimension is inherent and inseparable in practice perspective. Applying this perspective means giving voice to variance and inconsistency as well as ample dose of sensemaking as, from time to time, organizations are changing and their change is not always coherent and make sense.

 From content-oriented to process-oriented.

From content-oriented to process-oriented.

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This is written as a reflection for the first three-day session on “Strategy as Practice/Process” PhD course at Jönköping International Business School, Sweden. The course was led by Leif Melin (day one), Ethel Brundin (day two) and Olof Brunninge (day three). The upcoming sessions will be held on November and December.