I recently came across this post from Umair Haque, a discussion leader at HarvardBusiness.org.

I’ve come across some of his posts before and kind of understood them and kind of not …. but this is for me the clearest articulation of his views on firms and the ‘new economy’ I’ve seen so far. I’ve read the post a few times. His concept of the DNA of a company, and the cases he cites, seems to me to bring a number of different elements of strategy management theory together.

In the case of Starbucks an Microsoft, this appears to be strategic drift theory and core competences becoming core rigidities. In other words, companies fail to keep up with changing market demands due in part to strategic myopia and in part to the sheer difficulty of changing the combination of competences and resources utilisation patterns in any meaningful sense. The post also draws on notions of path dependent strategic logics where previous decisions close off future strategic options. In other words, certain companies find it difficult to change but change is now a business necessity.

There is in this, therefore, a critique of existing strategic management tools – altho’ it could be argued that companies do not make sufficient use of existing tools with SWOT being the only tool of choice in many companies (so much for all those highly trainined MBAs). Traditional notions of the market and industrial dynamics and competitive positioning reinforce these negative strategic practices.

I was also reminded from Umair’s post of Lynda Grattons work on signature processes where successful, adaptable companies have signature processes based around practices of organisational learning. Is it the case that organisations with a learning focus in their signature processes are naturaly more open to their external environment (as a source of learning input) are therefore, more permeable and more adaptable to change – able to break path dependencies and avoid strategic draft?

I’ll be following this series of posts from Umir with great interest.

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