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How to Strategise with artful thinking


A new business reality in the world provides companies with many opportunities to adjust their strategies and make some changes – to do things different, in another manner and to be more inclusive.​

Business strategies is part of and evolves in the world of consulting. First there is the global consulting sphere where consulting businesses have their own best practices and wayS of doing things. As part of their competitive advantage, these practices are not easily shared with others. 

Then there is a “second tier” consulting level. It is this sphere and path to the development of effective and suitable business strategies that was recently highlighted at the USB Executive Development (USB-ED) and Finweek’s regular We Read For You (WRFY) presentation recently held in Cape Town.



The two new books on the shelve reviewed was Navigating Strategic Possibilities and Crystallising the Strategic Business Landscape, both co-authored by Prof Marius Ungerer, Gerard Ungerer and Johan Herholdt

The first, Navigating Strategic Possibilities, involves the invention and re-invention of an organisation. Here the key strategic choices related to the competitive advantage and positioning of an organisation are presented in an integrated strategic architecture perspective. The strategy navigation tools contained in this book provides the identification and execution tools needed to flourish.

The strategy book, Crystallising the Strategic Business Landscape, provides readers with a solid point of departure for conducting impactful, relevant and future-orientated strategy analyses and syntheses. The strategic business landscape is crystallised by viewing it from different vantage points to inform the development of strategic foresight, insight and cross-sight.

According to Prof Marius Ungerer of the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB) and presenter at the event, there are many new concepts for businesses putting up multi-channels of operations. “For example, there is the concept of ‘e-value’, which differs from ‘customer value’ in the retail sector.”

In most cases books on strategy will tell a good story and give lots of principals, but seldom will they tell you ‘how to do it.’ “This was one the contributions that we wanted to make. We were explicit in helping readers and practitioners on how to make this a practice”.

“It is only when you can put these ideas through a specific framework into a specific application templet that you can go forward.”

A strategy is seen as the collective, emerging pattern – based on strategic choices – an organisation consciously exhibits and executes over time to ensure its sustainable endurance by differentiating itself in a unique ways to create and add value for stakeholders.

“A strategy is about explaining how an organisation wants to move forward and how it wants to advance the interest of stakeholders. Organisations become what they get executed”.

“With developing a strategy there is no recipes or guarantees, but there is such a thing as artful thinking to navigate in a competitive environment. It always involves risk as we do not know for sure how our choices will turn out. Uncertainty is the companion of strategy.”  

Prof Ungerer emphasised that there is a critical need for new executive thinking to leverage rapid advancing technologies in enabling breakthrough innovation and growth. The concept of exponential technologies and its implications is current growing rapidly.

It is against this background and a first for South Africa that the University of Stellenbosch and its innovation partners has taken the initiative to found The Exponential Africa Institute (xA) with the purpose to expose decision makers to exponential technologies and to cultivate a nonlinear mind-set in order to harness the power of exponential trends. (The first 4-day Disruption Partnership Program will be held from 8 to 11 May 2017 in Stellenbosch – click here for more information.)

Prof Marius Ungerer is an Associate Professor at the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB). His areas of expertise include organizational strategy, change and leadership and strategic management.

Article published in finweek 23 February 2017 issue.
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