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The Subtle Art of Strategy: Organizational Planning in Uncertain Times

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"Before Jack Welch there was Ian Wilson. In his years at GE, Wilson pioneered the concept that strategists must learn to plan in the face of uncertainty....In this brilliant volume he summarizes the strategic state-of-the-art in terms that are as clear as they are practical. Nobody has said it better." - James O'Toole University of Southern California and author of Leadership A to Z

Strategy--and the planning that created it--has too often failed to deliver its promised results. The reasons for this failure are many and varied, but include an over-reliance on the "next big thing" in strategic methodology, a failure to recognize and deal with the total change that strategy requires in an organization, and an inability to deal with uncertainty. Wilson argues that strategy is a subtle and demanding art, far more than it is a science or a methodology. To succeed in dealing with complex, interacting forces inside and outside the organization, strategy must: -- Deal with the totality of the organization in the context of its total environment (not just one function or one facet of the organization) -- Learn to "harness the power of opposites" (the sometimes conflicting objectives of the organization, e.g., the long term and short term; vision and execution; economic constraints and social responsibility) -- Deal constructively with pervasive uncertainty in its future -- Develop a strategic vision -- Create a culture that fosters a "strategic mindset" throughout the organization. Without constant change and adaptation, a strategy will fail. Continuing success depends, therefore, upon constant learning from customers, competitors, changes in our environment, and our own mistakes.

About the Author

IAN WILSON is an international management consultant, author, and authority on scenario planning and strategic management. Principal of Wolf Enterprises, a consultancy in San Rafael, California, he started his career in England and later joined General Electric in the United States. At GE, as a member of the strategic planning staff, he established their pioneering Business Environmental Analysis component before becoming a public policy advisor to GE's chief executive officer. Later, as a senior management consultant with SRI International, he worked with senior management teams in a variety of industries.
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