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Plus ca Change, Plus C'est la Meme Chose[1]

 

By Henry H. Goldman

 

 

I was recently asked to prepare a series of workshops on the specific topic of "Strategic Planning" for a client in Kenya, West Africa.  I duly prepared a two-day seminar stressing the important inputs needed for effective planning, the resources required, the responsibility of senior management, etc.  I offered an additional half-day program on "Strategic Agility," to round out the material and make it more useful to the company.

Shortly after I dispatched the information to Africa, I received an e-mail from an East Coast based consultant on a very similar subject.  He is a very experienced and well known subject matter expert with specific knowledge in marketing consulting services and allied information.  He had just added more material to his Strategic Planning courses.  I was most impressed with the new subject matter.  He had added two brand new topics, ones with which I was unfamiliar.  With my program already sent, it became very important to me that I had to research my colleague's new course material and see if it might also fit into my courses.  He had integrated "Disciplined Execution" and "Evidence-Based Management" into an overall exploration of the typical "Strategic Planning" concept.

My research into these "new" concepts proved to be quite interesting, hence the title of this piece: "The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same."  I have been a student of "Strategic Planning" since meeting the late UCLA professor George A. Steiner whose book, Strategic Planning: What Every Manager Must Know [2] became my strategic "bible."  With Steiner's help, I became a part-time teacher of the subject and was able to use the concepts in my consulting practice. These "new" aspects of strategic planning had already been covered by Steiner, some thirty years ago. 

What we have is "old wine in new bottles."  Please do not misunderstand me, I am not suggesting that these "new" elements of planning are not important, I am suggesting that they are simply not new.  But, it is true that each new innovation within and complimentary to Strategic Planning demands "a number of more sophisticated programs and initiatives.  Each of these newer ideas represent a change in management style or, in some cases, a change in corporate culture" or both.  Samples of the changes triggered by these additions to the Strategic Planning "library" include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Customer involvement

  • Management responsibilities

  • Company cultural change

  • Statistical orientation

  • ·Continuous measurable improvement

  • ·Employee empowerment

  • Teamwork

  • Competitive benchmarking

  • Cycle time reduction

  • Vendor, supplier integration.[3]

Since it is quite likely that the newer elements will become a part of Strategic Planning, Strategic Agility from now on, I have already revised my workshops so as to identify by name, the areas to which they apply.  I suggest that each of us must continually redefine ourselves to insure that our materials are up-to-date, even if it is only a change in name or focus, rather than an entirely new concept.


[1] Attributed to the French philosopher, Alphonse Karr (1808-1890).

[2] New York: Free Press, Macmillan, 1979.

[3] Henry H. Goldman. "Total Quality as a Change Tool," in Holger Nauheimer, ed., Taking Stock: A Survey on the Practice and Future of Change Management, p. 129.  Berlin,  Germany: 2005.


Henry H. Goldman is a Fellow of The Business Forum Institute and is the Managing Director of the Goldman Nelson Group.  Henry got his Masters Degree at the University of Iowa and did his Doctoral Studies at the University of Southern California.  He is a Certified Professional Consultant to Management (CPCM); and has published numerous articles in trade journals and was Associate Editor of Taking Stock: A Survey on the Practice and Future of Change Management (Berlin, Germany).  He is a member of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD); Association of Professional Consultants (APC) and the Institute of Management Consultants (IMC). Henry has consulted and/or offered training in South Africa, Tanzania, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Macau, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Barbados, Georgia, Kosovo, Tajikistan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and of course North America.  He has also taught at Baker University: Lee’s Summit, MO, 2008, Adjunct Professor of International Business; National Graduate School: Falmouth, MA, 2004-2008, Adjunct Professor of Quality Management; California State University: Fullerton, 2005-2006, Lecturer on Taxation; University of California: Berkeley, 2002, Adjunct Professor of Management; University of Macau (China), Adjunct Professor of Management, 2001-2003.


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