A source of useful business ideas for the 21st-century leader Why should leaders know about the science of business strategy? How can they benefit from business models that have been developed in the past? Why should they invest time in discovering key authors in the evolution of strategy? These and other questions are frequent among business leaders. "A leader's commitment is strongly related to the company's future and management ideas are often associated with the latest business approaches," says ESADE Professor Marcel Planellas. "Leaders are constantly searching for the 'latest thing' and they tend to deny history, but models and theories that have been effective in the past can also be very useful tools for today's leaders." Prof. Planellas's research in Harvard Deusto Business Review and in the ESADE Working Paper The Evolution of Strategy shows that discovering other leaders and academics who have solved similar issues in the past can open new perspectives in management. Knowing about the evolution of strategy can be a source of new ideas for the 21st-century leader. Art and science of management Being a leader has to do with experience, the development of functions and action-based learning, but it is also connected to knowing specific theories and learning management techniques. That's why experts sometimes refer to it as the art and science of management. "Over the past 50 years, we have witnessed an impressive collective effort to develop the science of business administration and management," says Prof. Planellas. "Organizations and academic partners have designed models and tools to help leaders face their management challenges better." Economists, engineers, sociologists, philosophers, psychologists and anthropologists have conducted research on the complex and fascinating phenomenon of organization development. According to Prof. Planellas, the paradox is that all this knowledge and science is surprisingly not very well known or valued by business leaders. "Perhaps one reason for this lack of knowledge is the misperception that strategy ideas become obsolete or expire when new ones emerge," says Prof. Planellas. "When leaders acquire a historical perspective, they see how new ideas have been built upon previous ones." Sometimes new management ideas are just a continuation of existing ones. In other cases, new theories emerge as an opposing view to encourage debate. As in other social sciences, business management ideas evolve over time in an ongoing historical process. "The 21st-century leader should know about these management theories and how to use this knowledge in their business strategy. Looking back and discovering authors and models can be a very useful source of knowledge for present and future leaders." Strategic tools The research findings are a call to action. "On a leader's bookshelf, classical management books can and should coexist with the latest bestsellers in management. A leader's task is to be able to select from these strategic tools the most appropriate ones and know how to apply them in the organization's particular context. These models are strategic management tools for executive leaders as well as businesspeople," says Prof. Planellas. The author warns that not all models are useful for all contexts and that an organization's particular circumstance is key. Executive leaders have to select the most appropriate models to build their strategy. They shouldn't attempt to cover everything. Instead, they should be selective and determine where, when and how specific models can be put to good use. "The big challenge is to adapt these models to each organization and develop business applications that meet specific needs. Executive leaders and businesspeople of the 21st century need to understand the evolution of strategy in order to become the architects of future decisions," concludes Prof. Planellas. This article was originally published in the ESADE Knowledge Pills magazine by Executive Education.

ESADE

Back to home

Why leaders need to know about the evolution of strategy

01/2018

A source of useful business ideas for the 21st-century leader


Why should leaders know about the science of business strategy? How can they benefit from business models that have been developed in the past? Why should they invest time in discovering key authors in the evolution of strategy? These and other questions are frequent among business leaders.


"A leader's commitment is strongly related to the company's future and management ideas are often associated with the latest business approaches," says ESADE Professor Marcel Planellas. "Leaders are constantly searching for the 'latest thing' and they tend to deny history, but models and theories that have been effective in the past can also be very useful tools for today's leaders."


Prof. Planellas's research in Harvard Deusto Business Review and in the ESADE Working Paper The Evolution of Strategy shows that discovering other leaders and academics who have solved similar issues in the past can open new perspectives in management. Knowing about the evolution of strategy can be a source of new ideas for the 21st-century leader.


Art and science of management


Being a leader has to do with experience, the development of functions and action-based learning, but it is also connected to knowing specific theories and learning management techniques. That's why experts sometimes refer to it as the art and science of management.


"Over the past 50 years, we have witnessed an impressive collective effort to develop the science of business administration and management," says Prof. Planellas. "Organizations and academic partners have designed models and tools to help leaders face their management challenges better."



Economists, engineers, sociologists, philosophers, psychologists and anthropologists have conducted research on the complex and fascinating phenomenon of organization development. According to Prof. Planellas, the paradox is that all this knowledge and science is surprisingly not very well known or valued by business leaders.


"Perhaps one reason for this lack of knowledge is the misperception that strategy ideas become obsolete or expire when new ones emerge," says Prof. Planellas. "When leaders acquire a historical perspective, they see how new ideas have been built upon previous ones."


Sometimes new management ideas are just a continuation of existing ones. In other cases, new theories emerge as an opposing view to encourage debate. As in other social sciences, business management ideas evolve over time in an ongoing historical process. "The 21st-century leader should know about these management theories and how to use this knowledge in their business strategy. Looking back and discovering authors and models can be a very useful source of knowledge for present and future leaders."


Strategic tools


The research findings are a call to action. "On a leader's bookshelf, classical management books can and should coexist with the latest bestsellers in management. A leader's task is to be able to select from these strategic tools the most appropriate ones and know how to apply them in the organization's particular context. These models are strategic management tools for executive leaders as well as businesspeople," says Prof. Planellas.


The author warns that not all models are useful for all contexts and that an organization's particular circumstance is key. Executive leaders have to select the most appropriate models to build their strategy. They shouldn't attempt to cover everything. Instead, they should be selective and determine where, when and how specific models can be put to good use.


"The big challenge is to adapt these models to each organization and develop business applications that meet specific needs. Executive leaders and businesspeople of the 21st century need to understand the evolution of strategy in order to become the architects of future decisions," concludes Prof. Planellas.


This article was originally published in the ESADE Knowledge Pills magazine by Executive Education.

More Knowledge
La evolucin de la estrategia
Planellas Arn, Marcel
Harvard Deusto Business Review
N 257, 06/2016, p. 6 - 16
The evolution of strategy (Over six decades and thirty models)
Planellas Arn, Marcel
02/2017
ESADE working paper; ; n 262
18 p.
Back to home