Thursday, November 30, 2006

Notes: Positioning School

Positioning School

Originator: Michael Porter
Book: Competitive Strategy (1980)
Idiom: “Nothing but the facts, madam.”

The positioning school emphasizes the importance of strategies themselves without observing the processes alone which are used to produce them. In addition it brings a focus to the actual content of strategies and a prescriptive method of investigation of options. The positioning school is the basis of much research and an entire strategic management industry in the world today.

Michael Porter was able to focus dissatisfaction with the design and planning school process methods upon a need for substantial content of strategy itself which makes it the most dominant school. His research was derived from a concern for industrial organization and military strategies which had never before been focused upon individual firms or business units before. Such militaria includes Sun Tsu’s The Art of War (500 B.C.) and von Clausewitz's On War (1873).

Limits are placed on the usefulness of strategies in the positioning school. Those key factors of competitiveness are related to the economic marketplace relevant to a particular business in areas of strengths easily defended and maintained against competitors. Firms with key competencies in particular products or services can then consolidate their positions and expand from them. Thus a few key strategies are dominant, for example, product differentiation and focused market scopes.

Thus the positioning school matches the most useful strategies with the conditions at the time by using fairly standard analytical models which are considered generic methods overall. Thus useful analysis is based within specific data collection sets relevant to particular circumstances. So while this process of strategy formation continues to run parallel to the design and planning schools in controlled and conscious, deliberate and completely formed strategies there is a great focus on calculation and closely defined generic strategic positioning with an added emphasis on industrial structure which drives strategic structure which drives organizational structure. Here the CEO remains dominantly in control however the planner is reduced to analyst who rather than planning strategy reviews data sets to select optimum generic selection.

Intended Maxims

1. Generic strategies are common and easily identifiable in the marketplace.
2. The context is the economic and competitive marketplace.
3. Analytical calculations allow generic positioning to be strategically chosen.
4. Managers control choices and are fed calculations and data from analysts.
5. Market determines positional strategies ready to be implemented.
Mintzberg, Ahlstrand, Lampel (1998) The Strategy Process, Free Press, New York.
A Strategy Lecture
A Dissertation on Strategy
Small business development and the “learning organisation"

Notes: Planning School

Notes: Planning School

Originator: Igor Ansoff
book: Corporate Strategy (1965)
Idiom: “A stitch in time saves nine.”

The planning school grew out of the growth in business strategic planning research of the 1970s. The idea of process of strategy became important to managers as a modern and progressive step to business management. It encouraged the growth of formal procedures, practices, and analysis methods with trained planners with close contact with CEOs.

Basic Model

1. Objectives Setting
2. External Audit
3. Internal Audit
4. Strategy Evaluation
5. Strategy Operationalization
6. Scheduling Entire Process

Intended Precepts

1. Strategies are consciously formed and formalized plans, with steps, checklists, and techniques.
2. CEO is responsible only in principle while execution of plans responsibility of staff planners.
3. Strategies are revealed as complete and explicit to be implemented according close attention to schedules and details.


Learning to Plan and Planning to Learn

Lecture notes from Helsinki University of Technology

Conceptualizing and Integrated Planning System

Notes: Design School

Design School

Originators: Philip Selznick & Alfred. D. Chandler
Books: Leadership in Administration (1957) Strategy and Structure (1962)
Idiom: “Look before you leap.”

Best Fit

Most key concepts of strategy courses rely on the design school to attempt to match or fit internal abilities with external opportunities. Generation of strategy is seen to be a creative act (Andrews). Alternative strategies are selected and evaluated for best fit with a series of tests (Rumelt).
Overall Strategic Requirements

Consistency: All goals and policies must be mutually agreeable.

Consonance: Choice of strategy must be adaptable to internal and external conditions.

Advantage: Competitive advantage must be realized by the strategy.

Feasibility: Must not exceed current abilities or create new problems.

The SWOT model is a standard approach to external and internal modeling.

Intended Premises
  1. Strategy formation should come from conscious thought.
  2. CEO has responsibility as chief strategist.
  3. Keep model simple and easy to understand.
  4. Strategies should be unique and individually designed.
  5. Design of perspective formulation indicates completeness.
  6. Must be explicit and simple.
  7. Must be fully formulated to be implemented.


Strategy Theory: A Short Review of Literature

Wren Network: Chapter 3 Strategy

Uncertain Economists: Futurity in Strategic Decisions

Mintzberg, Ahlstrand, Lampel (1998) The Strategy Process, Free Press, New York.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Negotiating Mintzberg's Strategy Safari

Negotiating Mintzberg's Strategy Safari

"A number of disciples went to the Buddha and said, "Sir, there are living here in Savatthi many wandering hermits and scholars who indulge in constant dispute, some saying that the world is infinite and eternal and others that it is finite and not eternal, some saying that the soul dies with the body and others that it lives on forever, and so forth. What, Sir, would you say concerning them?"

The Buddha answered, "Once upon a time there was a certain raja who called to his servant and said, 'Come, good fellow, go and gather together in one place all the men of Savatthi who were born blind... and show them an elephant.' 'Very good, sire,' replied the servant, and he did as he was told. He said to the blind men assembled there, 'Here is an elephant,' and to one man he presented the head of the elephant, to another its ears, to another a tusk, to another the trunk, the foot, back, tail, and tuft of the tail, saying to each one that that was the elephant.

"When the blind men had felt the elephant, the raja went to each of them and said to each, 'Well, blind man, have you seen the elephant? Tell me, what sort of thing is an elephant?'
"Thereupon the men who were presented with the head answered, 'Sire, an elephant is like a pot.' And the men who had observed the ear replied, 'An elephant is like a winnowing basket.' Those who had been presented with a tusk said it was a ploughshare. Those who knew only the trunk said it was a plough; others said the body was a grainery; the foot, a pillar; the back, a mortar; the tail, a pestle, the tuft of the tail, a brush.
"Then they began to quarrel, shouting, 'Yes it is!' 'No, it is not!' 'An elephant is not that!' 'Yes, it's like that!' and so on, till they came to blows over the matter.
"Brethren, the raja was delighted with the scene.
"Just so are these preachers and scholars holding various views blind and unseeing.... In their ignorance they are by nature quarrelsome, wrangling, and disputatious, each maintaining reality is thus and thus."

Then the Exalted One rendered this meaning by uttering this verse of uplift,

O how they cling and wrangle, some who claim
For preacher and monk the honored name!
For, quarreling, each to his view they cling.
Such folk see only one side of a thing.

Jainism and Buddhism. Udana 68-69:

Parable of the Blind Men and the Elephant
Udana 68-69: We give a version of this well-known Indian tale from the Buddhist canon, but some assert it is of Jain origin. It does illustrate well the Jain doctrine of Anekanta, the manysidedness of things. Cf. Tattvarthaslokavartika 116, p. 806. Mihir Yast 10.2: Cf. Analects 15.5, p. 1020.

Links of variable usefulness to elephantine examiners:

Ten Schools of Thought

I'll See It When I Believe It - A Simple Model of Cognitive Consistency

If you have the clams...

A tasty tidbit of Chandler's "Strategy and Structure"

A powerpoint on strategic schools of thought,10,About%20the%20strategy%20task

An OMG look at that syllabus...

Free (first thing I ever saw free there) at Acadia

Extremely helpful case study page at SFU

Thursday, November 23, 2006

XII:When I do count the clock that tells the time


When I do count the clock that tells the time,
And see the brave day sunk in hideous night;
When I behold the violet past prime,
And sable curls, all silvered o'er with white;
When lofty trees I see barren of leaves,
Which erst from heat did canopy the herd,
And summer's green all girded up in sheaves,
Borne on the bier with white and bristly beard,
Then of thy beauty do I question make,
That thou among the wastes of time must go,
Since sweets and beauties do themselves forsake
And die as fast as they see others grow;
And nothing 'gainst Time's scythe can make defence
Save breed, to brave him when he takes thee hence.


When I do count the clock that tells the time,

My professor used to say this one so clearly defined the passage of time...even the sound of the clock...

And see the brave day sunk in hideous night;

...the passage of life, from life to death and light to darkness...

When I behold the violet past prime,

...the dying of youth and beauty, the maturing of innocence to experience...

And sable curls, all silvered o'er with white;

...Shakespeare wrote of the dark lady here, never named with her hair turning white...

When lofty trees I see barren of leaves,

...seasons symbolizing life and death...

Which erst from heat did canopy the herd, image of pastural beauty turning again to death...

And summer's green all girded up in sheaves,

...the end of harvest time, the kimchang...

Borne on the bier with white and bristly beard,

...the bier is a coffin's carrier, Shakespeare speaks of his own death and his own age...

Then of thy beauty do I question make,

...he questions the beauty of the dark lady, remembered only by him as in age it is gone...

That thou among the wastes of time must go,

...that she also will die old and sick and worn down...

Since sweets and beauties do themselves forsake eventually abandons the body even of the beautiful young lover...

And die as fast as they see others grow;

...dying in a second of time as time passes on always...

And nothing 'gainst Time's scythe can make defence

...a scythe is a large harvesting tool often shown carried by the reaper who is death and no one escapes it...

Save breed, to brave him when he takes thee hence.

...the only thing a man or woman may do to make any part of themselves immortal is to make a the hopes that some part may live on beyond...except for the greatest of arts...

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Review Five: Credible New Ideas, Anyone?

Review Five of Beyond Machiavelli: Credible New Ideas, Anyone?

Roger Fisher (et. al.) Penguin Books (1996)

There can be no definition but that of paradox which illustrates the current state of bureaucratic decision-making in developed nations of the world today other than that of the excessively competitive setting within which conflict seems to perpetuate itself and or derives itself from an endless cycle of missed opportunities for conflict resolution. Globally the politics of government and business so clearly define the interests of a series of majorities that the luxury of individual reason or independent thought are almost solely dependent on the fact that the best ideas are often never formulated, contemplated, or tabled. While the tenets of post-modernism almost always suggest that there is nothing new to be found in the minds of present day intellect and that all thought has been perpetually thought through, muddled, and withered once before then inevitably true must the thought be that the best ideas, those often the source of group concepts of innovation in a historical perspective on progress and perhaps that which has self-mollified a character of progress especially in the field of heterodox humanism are merely the luke-warm outcomes resultant to staying the course of the aims of the many which often ill-resource the complaints and conflicts of the world's perpetually unresolved current post-modernist issues.
Fisher et. al. suggest there are often too many men in the tub, that the water is too sparingly dispersed, that the tub itself is often too well defined and yet the scrub is equally as elusive, while the singular points of acclaimed eurekas are if ever even uttered are then thus inaudible, quelched, suppressed, denied, forced down or back, stifled and or filed under the interests of the precept of self-censorship. As well defined in the recent presentation of Ranjini Philip at the Fourteenth Annual Korea TESOL International Conference one cannot teach others freedom of expression without attempting the same expression and even under the bitter realities of state instituted censorship; self-censorship is as powerful a cultural factor in the definition of any concept of individuality as it may touched upon as filtered reality as a concept only of culture and not of individual realisation of self as defined by Edward T. Hall.
So too often the debates are ill-attended, as a concept of self is so equally ill-grasped, the representatives are often under-visited by undecided individuals. Where one would assume a majority would have insufficent information to affect judgements on a topic the opposite is often literally the case where too little research or too little observation of a topic might quickly decide one's views, particularly if they are of a fit or flavour of this or that particularly peer group of such use to the principle agents of marketing, advertising, and sales. So those who might render aid or even progress to an issue of the day are uniquely silent. Where if at first one were to choose to investigate a particular conflict even if the purposes were there to non-align and thus feed the intelligences with singularly self-defined realisations as nearly as impossible as they seem, one might seek to brave the concepts of epiphanies or divine interventions to approach such enlightenment and equally those especially able to reach the public in the vocalisation or discussion of any portion of approach to a professed individual opinion so humbly expressed and yet equally impossible to define. One which might neither qualify nor conclude as being of any other interest than to that of the widening of viewpoints, the building of conceptual bridges between disparately aligned parties where concepts of self unaligned to any particular politic, pragmatism, or debate might appreciate and thus to flower over a perspective of new, untried, still ever possible successful resolutions and not those of the often clarified polarisations of viewpoint so easily communciated through the media of our day. It would be hard to define such viewpoints as realistically achievable under the terms of cultural filtering of individual consciousness.
So in review five, one must applaud the concept of problem solving, if need be the unearthing of new ideas even out of the old, those that which many may have thought of and sprung before while observing the historical relevancy of old versus new ideas, and how their measure may only be seen in the past, while their future may yet be forecast but never so precisely as to be flawlessly executed in the present. If one were to equate new ideas with profit then we would most nearly all seek to share them. It is in Fisher et. al. a fitting description of the possible limits of negotiation analysis where best perhaps their pedigree is well coiffed and pranced upon a sack of thinly shackled human bones.
Four Step Analysis to Problem Solving
1. What is the matter?
2. Possible reasons and causes.
3. Possible strategies to turn problems into solutions to problems.
4. What and who might designate what should be done.
Fisher et. al. are quick to jump to the conclusion that people too often jump from deciding too quickly what is the problem to designating who should decide what should be done. So too fairly easily a conclusion can be made that far too often the wrong people are deciding what is the matter of the ways of the world and this great group defined as humanity and what should or should not be done about them. Thus one must conclude that the leaders of government and business are not well enough prepared for the resolution of conflict, nor are those experts who seek to support their quick-fix measures. Fisher et. al. also imply that an over-arching penchant
for steps two and three academically stratify knowledge bases and illegitamize pure research itself which would indicate a certain bias against academic pursuit of conflict reasons, causes, and possible strategies to turn such biases into solutions to problems. Especially if those solutions were to attempt to redress the bias against such academic pursuit. There is definitely a conundrum in such an outlook.
While the difficulties in generating new ideas out of the likes of tired or old brains are similarly nothing new or special in the field of theoretical approaches to resolutions to other peoples problems one often never reminds oneself of spiritualists to some and saints to others such as Mother Theresa who stipulated that one could never bring love or hope or joy to strangers without first settling those compassions within one's own house or family. So one must joust only with this best thinkers to tinker and salvage what remains of one's own proverbial castle in Spain? So it is problematic that race starters and finishers would heckle and joust with those very centralist runners and plodders ruminating about in the middle of the pact by virtue of contextuality having never been provisioned with the marketable skills of even ever starting or even ever finishing the race to solve problems.
It is such a diagramatic example of the utter lunacy intrinsic to assuming that such a four step process could be uniquely sold, consumed, or welded to the group cultural processes of many of the world's essentially non-linear cultural groups or that any one individual or group could claim singular defintion of the aims and thus steps to resolve even a simple process to analyze problem solving itself.