The Strategy Paradox

Raynor, Michael E.
July 2007
Strategy Paradox - Business Book Summaries;2007, Vol. 1 Issue 1, p1
Book Summary
Book summary
"Strategies with the greatest possibility for success also have the greatest possibility of failure," writes Michael Raynor in The Strategy Paradox. Raynor believes commitments and strategies which lead to business success are often the same strategies which can lead to disaster. The strategy paradox results from the need to commit to a strategy despite the uncertainty of the future. The strategy paradox rests on two premises: commitments cannot be adapted should predictions prove incorrect; and predictions are never reliably or verifiably correct. The author believes adaptability can work only when a company can change at the same pace as its environment, which he states is ultimately unachievable. Raynor also believes forecasting is not useful for long-term strategic planning because of the inherent unpredictability of the future. The author's recommends Requisite Uncertainty as a method for foiling the strategic paradox. Requisite uncertainty separates the management of commitments from the management of uncertainty implying that because different levels of a company's management face different risks, they therefore should be responsible for different portions of a firm's strategy. The author next outlines a process designed to successfully manage a business and avoid the strategy paradox. Strategic Flexibility creates a framework for "managing strategic uncertainty through the creation of strategic options." The framework for strategic flexibility is to anticipate, formulate, accumulate, and operate. Rynor believes scenario analysis should serve as the starting point for managing strategic uncertainty. The next step is to formulate strategies and develop "real options" for each scenario. The third step in the strategic flexibility process is to accumulate the right portfolio of strategic options. The final step in the process is to operate acquired assets efficiently. There are companies with good strategies and solid execution which still fail. The goal of this book is to help leaders learn to succeed deliberately and consistently, rather than just because of good fortune.


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