When Alfred Sloan conceived the modern corporation at General Motors, he based it on hierarchical military organizations. Companies were split into divisions, each with their own leadership.
Orders flowed downwards and your rank determined your responsibility. It was in this context that strategic planning and techniques like SWOT analysis took hold.
By the 1980’s, the seams started to show. When Jack Welch took the helm of General Electric he largely dismantled the strategic planning process, because, as he said at the time,”the books got thicker, the printing got more sophisticated, the covers got harder and the drawing got better,” but none of that improved how the company performed.
Today, planning has become even less tenable. As the pace continues to accelerate and technology cycles become shorter than corporate planning cycles, the false certainty that planning engenders is becoming an impediment to, rather than a tool for, attaining objectives.
As Roger Martin put it in a recent article in The Harvard Business Review, strategy is not planning. There is a better way.3d