A Critical Review of ‘The Fall and Rise of Strategic Planning’
The arrival of strategic planning had attracted general attention because it implanted
in managers’ minds a kind of imperative about the process that was rational and
future-oriented (Mintzberg et al, 1998). Nevertheless, Whittington (2001:4) observed,
“the plan is bound to get forgotten as circumstances change”. The purpose of this
essay is to critically review ‘The Fall and Rise of Strategic Planning’. Firstly, the
position of this article in the wider debate will be given followed by its theoretical
underpinnings and its main strengths and weaknesses respectively. A conclusion will
be drawn on the article’s ...view middle of the document...
However, Thietart and Forgues (1995) questioned
this separated approach as artificial in terms of interactive and dynamic realities.
Mintzberg et al. (1998) also maintained that detached managers and abstracted
planners do not create strategies at all, and “real strategists get their hands dirty
digging for ideas” (Mintrzberg, 1994:111). Countering the conventional planners’
favoured hard-data such as market-research-reports, Mintzberg emphasized the
importance of exchanging soft-data like gossip and hearsay. Through recognising the
limitations of hard-data including lacking richness, he maintained that productive
managers depend on some softest information (Mintzberg, 1994). Langley (1999) also
maintained that a series of informal learning is needed to create strategies.
Thirdly, according to the classical approach, formal planning is a rational process of
deliberate calculation and analysis (Whittington, 2001) and embraced as “the one best
way” (Mintzberg, 1994:107). Unlike conventional systematic planning, Mintzberg
constructed his argument upon the belief that perfect rationality does not exist (Carter
et al, 2008). Mintzberg (1994) highlighted that strategies often cannot be developed
immaculately on schedule and must be free to appear anytime and anywhere through
messy informal learning. In other words, strategies are usually inspired from a
realistic process of learning, bodging and compromise than theories (Belcher, 2010).
For example, the UK Government confronted the collapse of Northern Rock
unexpectedly in 2008. Eventually it nationalised the bank as a recovery strategy
although it was not included in initial formal planning (Walayat, 2008).
On the other hand, Mintzberg (1994) asserted that organizations disenchanted with
strategic planning should not conclude that there is no need for programming; that is,
although Mintzberg’s beliefs lean heavily in the processual approach, he insisted
feasible strategies must combine emergent flexible learning and deliberate cerebral
control (Mintzberg, 1994). Harrison (1995) also supported that not only can senior
management’ intentions be defined in advance, strategy can but also be developed
unconsciously through learning (Mintzberg and Waters, 1985). To illustrate, an
investigation of 112 manufacturing firms demonstrated that incorporating intuition
and creation into formal planning system confirmed high organisational performance
(Falshaw et al, 2006).
As far as the theoretical underpinnings that form the article’s conceptual basis,
Mintzberg accepted three premises. Firstly, Mintzberg (1994) assumed that the world
is too turbulent to plan all complexities (Van Woerkum, Aarts and De Grip, 2007).
The Chaos theory also stressed that long-range forecasting was very difficult (Levy,
1994) because of the nonlinear dynamics (Thietart and Forgues, 1995). Mintzberg’s
attitude on chaos and uncertainty helped him reach his argument, strategic-making