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The Lenses Through Which We Can View Strategy

Strategy setting and the ways in which it can be achieved is one of the cornerstones of management. Through the years, there have been many attempts at condensing what is a complex and multi-faceted concept into easy to digest metaphors. Some of these involve the notion of “strategy lenses.” Here, I’ll outline just two of these approaches. The first was put forward by Johnson, Scholes & Wittington (2004) and proposes three “lenses” through which to view strategy: …as design: a process of “design” based on a thorough analysis of all pertinent factors. This approach tends to be top-down (senior management driven) and is often referred to as “logical determinism” in that analysis governs and precedes action. …as experience: a more adaptive (or emergent) lens centered on “experience” and tends to involve people from across the business. Heavily influenced by the culture and received wisdom of an organization. …as ideas: ideas and innovation are generated at all levels of the organization, which is viewed as a complex organism. This can lead to radical new developments. Another conceptualization, suggested by Mintzberg & Westley (2001), offers three compelling metaphors for the process of strategic decision making: Think-first: through a process of “procedural rationality” problems are identified and analyzed before choosing a course of action. See-first: through a process of “insight or intuition”, decisions are shaped by an often subconscious synthesis of previous learning and experience. Do-first: through a process of “sense making” this involves the testing of various interpretations. Action is taken to gain better understanding.

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