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Long Range Planning

40/6 December 2007



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Charles Baden-Fuller Editorial

It gives me pleasure to introduce this issue. The first three pieces address different aspects of the broad strategy agenda moving from high level ideas into the details of practices: something that is the very essence of LRP’s mission and objectives. Jac Geurts, Richard Duke and Patrick Vermeulen examine how Policy Games can improve strategy making and commitment. Previous writers such as Johan Roos, Bart Victor and Matt Statler (Playing seriously with strategy: LRP vol 37 (6) Pages 549e568) have looked at the positive aspects of playing with Lego when making strategy.
Here, in this issue we see how policy games supported by simulation techniques can tackle intransient problems releasing energies and allowing participants to expand their horizons. On a parallel theme Miguel Pina e Cunha and Robert Chia show how selecting the team can be vitally important when examining the periphery and making strategy. They explain why the minimally structured team or the immersion team have the greatest power, because they can remain focussed and still explore the future without too many constraints. Our third piece by Elizabeth McMillan and Ysanne Carlisle looks at ordered chaos as a way of planning and executing change. They show how the ideas of complexity science can be utilised in a very practical manner to unleash energy in a politicised environment, engaging a wide scope of actors.
The next two pieces carry on a theme that has stretched over several years: how to engage with environmental and social issues. Bryan Husted and David Allen examine how integrating social responsibility with core strategy and management processes can also create shareholder value. They stress that making CSR projects visible and explicitly recognising the potential for profitable outcomes are crucial ingredients for success. Marcus Wagner reinforces this theme showing how integrating the social and environmental thinking with other processes in the firm can lead to improved performance on both dimensions. The mechanisms can include balanced score card and Environmental Shareholder Value techniques.
Finally, I apologize to our readers that there are only 5 issues for 2007. Unfortunately the special issue scheduled for December was not finalized in time for the presses. The good news is that it is now complete and will appear in February 2008. Moreover, because the number of articles printed in each issue has been growing this year, the total number of pieces published in 2007 is the same as for 2006. We expect even more articles and special issues during the coming months, all of which are designed to please our academic and practice oriented readers.


Jac L.A. Geurts, Richard D. Duke and Patrick A.M. Vermeulen Policy Gaming for Strategy and Change Patrick.Vermeulen@uvt.nl

Making strategy can be fun e or at least, it can be a game! This article examines the common threads between eight well-documented strategy change projects which used policy gaming as their major methodology, and comes up with a list of 5 Cs - Complexity, Communication, Creativity, Consensus and Commitment to Action e where the game mode produces positive and desirable results. Analysing one case in detail, they show how participants ‘in role’ get to see how it looks from the other guy’s point of view. Working together to design their corporate future, they understand better, are heard more, and arrive at a common vision crafted by ‘playing’ together, with all the freedom from conventional restraints that entails.
Combining the rigor of systems analytical and simulation techniques with the creativity of scenario building, using both formal models and non-formal symbols, the authors show how gaming can help design solutions which gain commitment even when strategy problems are ‘wicked’, exceptional or urgent, and precedent offers little help. Not only do they see gaming as being academically well-grounded, they view the new age of high-tech entertainment games embracing virtual reality and worldwide internet-enabled participation and communication as offering a whole new generation of tools for the future ‘language of complexity’.


Miguel Pina e Cunha and Robert Chia Using Teams to Avoid Peripheral Blindness mpc@fe.unl.pt

Managements of large corporations are often exhorted to provide focus and clarity of purpose, often manifested in notions such as corporate vision and business strategy. Yet such a concentration of focus can result in issues at the periphery of the organisation’s awareness being neglected or overlooked. Increasingly the periphery is being recognised as an area from which opportunities can arise or threats emerge. In such circumstances, the capacity to regard the periphery may be vital to an organisation’s continued wellbeing and survival. This article advocates using teams to avoid peripheral blindness: but not just any sort of team. For a start, it outlines how teams are better equipped to view the periphery because of the inherent diversity of perspectives they tend to bring. However, not all teams are effective in scrutinising the periphery. The authors identify four generic types of teams: execution teams, that display a predominance of focal attention but not peripheral vision; minimally-structured teams, that actively combine both focal and peripheral vision; immersion teams, which have developed peripheral vision but no equivalent focal vision; and dysfunctional teams, that lack both focal and peripheral vision. Of these, the minimallystructured and immersion teams are particularly suitable for exploring the periphery: minimally-structured teams are pressed to remain focused because of the clarity of goals, yet they are given the freedom to explore new avenues; immersion teams on the other hand are specifically set up to enrich the organisation with a peripheral vision, and not to see reality through focal lenses.
The authors conclude by suggesting that if an organisation creates teams with exploratory purposes, this may serve to clarify the dynamics of change and facilitate both awareness and deep understanding of what causes it, constituting for the organisation a strategy-informing device.


Elizabeth McMillan and Ysanne Carlisle Strategy as Order Emerging from Chaos: A Public Sector Experience y.m.carlisle@open.ac.uk

How useful are the ideas of complexity science to managers? In 1993 the Open University, only ten years earlier the UK’s pre-eminent distance learning provider was in danger of being outflanked by the redesigned offerings of more traditional universities. It was time for change: but could a large, public sector organisation learn to operate nearer to the ‘edge of chaos’? The senior manager charged with delivering a consultative process around the OU’s ‘Plans for Change’ was familiar with Stacey’s work on complexity science and the concepts of complex adaptive and self-organising systems. She initiated a series of selfdesigned workshops which saw volunteers taking a major lead in developing new strategy and turning it into action via a process whose spontaneity and momentum harnessed creative energies from across the organisation. The activities of various self-initiating groups defined a programme with the core purpose of changing the University, core values of action and egalitarian participation for all, and patterns of process including exchanging perspectives, discussion and debate, experimentation and innovation. The fresh flows of information and the new networks and feedback loops created in the process challenged the status quo and revitalised the organisation.


Bryan W. Husted and David B. Allen Strategic Corporate Social Responsibility and Value Creation among Large Firms: Lessons from the Spanish Experience bhusted@itesm.mx

Can corporate social responsibility (CSR) be a source of good and a wellspring of innovation, competitive advantage and value creation for the firm? While CEOs and government leaders insist in public that CSR projects create value for the firm, privately they admit that they do not know if CSR pays off. To address this question, the authors of the paper draw on the experience of 110 Spanish firms to see how the strategic management of CSR may contribute to improving firm profitability. They do this by considering the impact of three strategic CSR variables (visibility, appropriability, and voluntarism) on value creation among large Spanish corporations. The authors find that making projects visible and identifying explicitly how CSR projects can add value in other dimensions are keys to success. Surprisingly, and contrary to what previous researchers have argued, the authors find that managers do not need to be proactive to create significant value, even being reacting to government and other pressures can achieve positive outcomes.


Marcus Wagner Integration of Environmental Management with Other Managerial Functions of the Firm: Empirical Effects on Drivers of Economic Performance wagner@wi.tum.de

Environmental management is frequently designed with limited linkages to the core managerial processes and functions, such as strategic planning, quality management or health and safety. This disconnection can result in limited economic efficiency and low ecological effectiveness. Based on a study of 2,100 firms across eight European Countries, the author identifies four areas where integration between CSR and core processes of the firm can benefit economic performance: these are marketing, operations, image and risk management. The authors suggest that the classic tools for integration, such as the Balanced Scorecard and Environmental Shareholder Value concepts can work well to achieve these positive results.



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