Rigorous support strategy making by breaking, rather than

Rigorous Adherence to a Strategy-Making
The case-study evidence further demonstrated Siemens’
focus on long-termism and continuity.
Throughout the entire field study, there was strong
evidence of continuity as one of the keys in Siemens’
strategy-making approach. According to the Financial
Times, von Pierer hopes that Siemens illustrates such
”time-honored German corporate values such as
concern with. . . reliability and long-term thinking”
(Financial Times, January 21, 2002). In the words of
the CEO, himself:
”Siemens is proud of its 150-year-old tradition. And our
Top Plus Program today bases its core elements on the values
and strategies of our founder, Werner von Siemens.
Part of this company philosophy is that we think and work
with a view to the future. We don’t believe in the short
term ‘get in get out’ strategy many believe we should follow”
(von Pierer, speech, February 13, 1997).
Discussion. The long-term orientation of Siemens is in
many ways the antithesis of the recent strategy-making
literature. In a well-known article, Mintzberg
(1994) has investigated the ‘fall and rise of strategic
planning,’ concluding that strategy makers should
act as catalysts who support strategy making by
breaking, rather than extending the existing frame
(1995, 108). Likewise, Eisenhardt (1989, 65) has
alerted her readers to approaches to unleash collective
intuition, accelerate constructive conflict, and
maintain decision pacing, rather than adhering rigorously
to a strategy-making approach over time. Hamel
empirically confirmed the importance of
discontinuous strategy that nurtures a culture of ‘corporate
rebels’ in detailed analyses across 20 industries
(Hamel, 2000). This author emphasized the
need to ‘develop corporate activists’ who rebel
against ‘corporate apparatchiks’ (2000, 145). Thus,
in contrast to the case-study evidence, the more recent
literature provides conceptual and empirical
evidence for the conjecture that rigorous adherence
to a strategy-making framework is deficient.
The case-study evidence, however, ties in very well
with the more established literature in descriptive
imagination. To quote Porter: ”Having a strategy is
a matter of discipline” (Porter, 2001, 70). The distinguishing
feature of descriptive imagination in strategy
making is its propensity to focus on a
‘disciplined’ extension of the current strategy in line
with the descriptions of the environment gathered
through experience or analysis (Roos and Victor,
1999; Porter, 1980, 1985).
The apparent paradox between the foci on rigorous
adherence to a specific framework and a more eclectic
and serendipitous approach can be reconciled by
the following quote by von Pierer:
”When a company like ours has endured and thrived for
over 150 years, it might be tempting to rely on successful
recipes used in the past. But today that would be fatal.
And any recipe has a short shelf life. Imagine a pilot
announcing on a flight: ‘I have some good news and some
bad news. The bad news is we have lost one engine and
our direction finder. The good news is we have a tail wind
and wherever we are going, we are getting there at 600
miles an hour.’ Everybody would be rather upset at the
news. Yet companies often fly like this plane—directionless,
lacking purpose, being pushed swiftly along by the
winds of circumstances” (von Pierer, speech, June 19,


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