Strategic planning is an outgrowth of military strategy as developed in the World Wars. The name "strategy" is derived from the Greek word for "generalship." By definition, strategy is what "generals" or leaders do from a distance. They do not become involved in contact with the enemy or the actual physical combat.
Strategic planning was adopted by business in the post-war years and used with great success by large companies like General Motors and Ford. One of the most successful automotive strategic planners, Robert S. McNamara, became Secretary of Defense in the 1960s. He developed a strategic plan for how the U.S. would win the Vietnam War. As we all know, that was a colossal failure.
In his landmark book, "The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning," Henry Mintzberg, probably the greatest expert in the world on strategic planning, explained in great detail why traditional strategic planning is almost always a failure. The bottom line of his book and his lifetime of studies is that traditional strategic planning provides the illusion of control.
In most organizations and communities, strategic planning is conducted by leaders who enjoy control. That is how they got to be leaders. Usually these are very intelligent, experienced people who have had a career of increasing success. Their personalities are well suited to do strategic planning. The only problem is, traditional strategic planning does not work for large-scale, complex problems, especially those we encounter in the 21st Century.
Lawrimore Communications has facilitated strategic planning for many government, nonprofit and business organizations for over 20 years. We have helped leaders write elegant plans with inspiring visions, mission statements, goals and strategies. But no sooner had the ink dried than new problems popped up which were not in the plan. The plans took a lot of work, so no one wanted to do them over again. As a result, the plans were often laid aside or ignored as people got on with their work and the real problems they encountered. For many people, this has been very frustrating.
A few years ago we began searching for a better way to do large-scale planning. We studied the success secrets of America’s leading companies. We read about various alternatives to planning such as the Learning Organization. We experimented with The Balanced Scorecard and strategic alignment. But nothing seemed quite right for the challenges that our clients and we were facing.
Then, through a single reference in a footnote of one of the books we read, we learned about a totally new way of dealing with constant change. It is based on recent scientific discoveries of how living systems, from ant colonies to businesses and communities, actually adapt to their changing environments, learn to be more successful, and evolve to higher levels. In the past couple of years an increasing number of organizations around the world have adopted these methods with dramatic results. They range from giant Monsanto and Citicorp to small businesses, nonprofit and community organizations.
We found this new way of dealing problems very compelling. The fact that it is based on science and the natural world was especially appealing. This is not what some management guru or military leader thinks. This is the real world.
Lawrimore Communications has adapted this powerful knowledge (which as originally developed is scientific and abstract) into a very practical, effective system called Codynamics. As the name implies, it is truly dynamic, and involves a lot of interaction. "Codynamics" means "power together." Groups which use it find that it is the most energizing, exciting, effective process they have ever encountered for dealing with complex problems and constant change. It is particularly effective dealing with challenging problems which seem to have no solution - the problems keep changing as you try to tackle them. That's why they are called "wicked problems."
Traditional strategic planning still works for the things you can actually control. These include things like buildings, infrastructure, transportation systems, computer systems, and certain areas of finance and accounting. What these things all have in common is that they are nonliving. It is fairly easy to control nonliving things. It is fairly difficult to control living things, especially people, who have minds of their own and do not like being controlled, thank you. If your problems or challenges involve people, especially those whom you cannot totally control, you need the power of Codynamics to do effective planning in the 21st Century.
In brief, Codynamic planning involves:
These are some of the reasons why Codynamics is so much more effective than traditional strategic planning for dealing with change, for dealing with complex problems which involve people, for staying in touch with reality, and for achieving far greater success than you ever imagined. The real world for most organizations is not a military battle where your goal is defeating the enemy. You are often part of the problem, and you cannot control the real world. You can, however, learn the secrets of nature, as science is discovering daily, and plan accordingly with the power of Codynamics.
It is not feasible to explain all the details of Codynamic planning here. To learn more about the science behind Codynamics, check out the other pages of our website. To discuss your particular interests or questions, please contact President Buck Lawrimore at 704-332-4344 or email Buck@Codynamics.net.
Copyright 2004, E.W. "Buck" Lawrimore, Lawrimore Communications Inc., Charlotte, NC USA