Beyond Strategy: Leadership, Futures and Ethics in a Complex World

The basic premise of the "Beyond Strategy" approach is that in business we put up fantasy measures that we call business planning, such as budget planning and strategic planning, which Stacey claims is a political process, primarily as social defences against anxiety. This distorts what we are actually doing and distracts us from the actual direct experiences we are having of each other as what happens through conversation.

Another premise is that the most important things we do can't be measured. These are open ended conversations around identity of "who are we?" or "What are we doing together?" This is the actual strategy we are involved in and is emergent strategy where we are endlessly searching for enough agreement to take the next steps. The next steps are iterative temporal processes, which are basic patterns of interactions moving recursively through time, of what we are doing together.

"Beyond Strategy" can be described as "Leadership, Futures and Ethics in a Complex World". Leadership because ultimately this is where courage and will resonates, Futures because of its epistemic challenges and Ethics because we are here talking about moral philosophy and its consequences on organisations and individuals. Complex, but not necessarily complicated, because complexity, by its very nature, is the consequence of human existence and behaviour experienced in the world.

» Read the paper in PDF


Organisational Future Sense: Action Learning and Futures

In this article, I make the following arguments: 

  1. Strategic planning needs to transform.
  2. Planning for the future should be anchored by action learning, making it anticipatory action learning.
  3. Planning for the future should use the quadruple bottom line approach.
  4. Planning for the future should be inclusive of multiple ways of knowing.
  5. Planning the future leads to organisational transformation.
  6. Leadership is central in effective futures planning.


» Read the paper in PDF


Leadership Update - May 2009

Managers need to pay attention

Managers often have trouble paying attention to reality because their views are distracted and distorted. The financial crisis has exacerbated this tendency as their stress levels are rising in the face of the bigger challenges and tougher choices such as retrenchments and budget cuts.

Managers need to effect change, influence their teams to work more effectively and assist staff to be more creative and innovative about the future, but they have to pay attention first.

"Leadership involves influencing change, but in the absence of true attention to others and reality, our efforts at influencing often degenerate into being reactive and coercive. To be truly effective and innovative a symbiosis of attention and influence or ‘Attfluence’ is needed," says Richard Searle, Program Director, Mt Eliza Executive Education, part of Melbourne Business School.

» Read this article in PDF


Leadership Update - March 2010

What impact does our leadership development have?

I keep seeing on the TV news how special Islamic schools from Yemen to Pakistan, Indonesia to Sudan and even in London are radicalising portions of the young population and turning many towards violence and even suicide missions.

Wow! What a powerful, though disturbing example of education having a really big impact on participants!

It makes me wonder what impact our own leadership development work has with individuals and within corporations?

» Read this article in PDF


Leadership Update - February 2010

Aboriginal Leadership Program

During the final morning Reflection Session of our one year, four module Aboriginal Leadership Program I shared with the group that I was feeling very emotional. I have worked with many groups over fourteen years of working in executive education but there was something special about the “generosity of spirit” of this group. Then I said something which surprised me and I didn’t even fully understand, but I shared that the experience for me left me feeling “more whole” and I felt like I was “coming home”. Some of the participants suggested that I was experiencing their sense of community.

The final session reminded me of another experience during an earlier module. We were conducting the module at the Koori Heritage Centre in the Melbourne CBD and staying at the hotel next door. After one day’s sessions I was sitting with about six participating Aboriginal leaders having a drink in the bar when two very young police officers came rushing in. They were clearly chasing someone and they spoke to the barmaid and walked around the room. As they cast their attention in our direction I could feel the tension rise at our table – maybe it was only my tension but the light banter suggested to me that it was shared. And I noticed the guns in the holsters of the young policemen and for one of the few times in my life I felt threatened by it. Nothing out of the ordinary happened and yet I had a small experience of what it might feel like sometimes to be Aboriginal in Australian society.

» Read this article in PDF