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Managing from Clarity: Identifying, Aligning and Leveraging Strategic Resources

Managing from Clarity: Identifying, Aligning and Leveraging Strategic Resources

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Most organizations can't execute strategy. Complexity is their enemy. A shared model (vision) of the strategy is the best way to cut through complexity. Unfortunately, developing clear and compelling visions to guide organizations is an art mastered by very few leaders. Are we condemned to wander aimlessly until a great leader develops a vision? System dynamics can make a science of visioning. Managing from Clarity provides a roadmap for introducing systems thinking to your organization. Read it; it's a snapshot of how strategy will be managed in the 21st Century. (David P. Norton, President, Balanced Scorecard Collaborative, co-author of the best-selling The Balanced Scorecard and The Strategy-Focused Organization)

If you're not a systems thinker, you're not a good business leader. A few born leaders do it through intuition. For all the rest, there's Managing from Clarity. The book will spell out for you how to build your strategic agenda and how to align your leadership team around it. (FrancisGouillart, CEO, Emergence Consulting, co-author of the best-selling Transforming the Organization)

Since Jay Forrester published Industry Dynamics and single-handedly laid down the foundations of system dynamics, several of his disciples have conducted many powerful consulting interventions in corporations all over the world. Three decades later their practices are still transmitted mostly through apprenticeship, thus limiting the expansion of the discipline and the benefits it brings to the world. With this book, Jim and Hal turn the art of system dynamics interventions into science for the first time. For those of us who live the successes and the frustrations of organizations every day, this is a gift every bit as wonderful as Dr. Forrester's.(Jorge Rufat-Latre, Director, Strategos)

This method really works! In 1999, the Strategic Decision Simulation Group applied the methodology described in this book to a pilot urban planning initiative in Honduras' capitol city, Tegucigalpa, shortly after that country, including Tegucigalpa, had been devastated by Hurricane Mitch. Participants in the initiative included representatives of the Government of Honduras, the Tegucigalpa Municipality, communities, and urban planners (including renowned Fregonese-Calthorpe Associates), and CARE-International. All the participants rated the SDSG methodology "excellent" because it enabled them to share mental models in a non-intimidating way, appreciate the social, economic, and environmental connections, feedbacks, and delays, and reach consensus on the problems they faced and opportunities for solutions (leverage points). I highly recommend this book to anyone seeking a practical tool to help analyze and solve complex problems in a participatory and systemic manner. (Peter Heffron, Best Practice Planning, Hilo, Hawaii, USA) (formerly with CARE-International)

This book offers a powerful set of ideas and frameworks for anyone with strategic responsibility. In these times of rapid change it is tempting to give up any effort to build a fact-based strategic path into the future. But the risks of failure are high for managers who hope to succeed on inspiration alone, so contributions such as this are most welcome. The book's underlying foundations in resource-based thinking provide a degree of confidence in the reliability of the approach it offers. (Kim Warren, Teaching Fellow, Strategic & International Management, London Business School, author Competitive Strategy Dynamics)

Uno de los grandesproblemas en las empresas hoy en día es la falta de claridad de cómo tener una estrategia accionable que lleve a los resultados esperados, en el mejor de los casos, tan solo se tiene una idea de la estrategia sin saber como llevarla al terreno del mundo real. La metodología GRASP me permitió entender con mucha claridad a los procesos internos de mi organización, su estructura, sus recursos, su gente con sus metas y objetivos, pero de manera muy importante entender como se interrelacionaban y cómo los resultados no deseados podían perpetuarse. Por otro lado me permitió entender qué acciones eran las más importantes y qué recursos debíamos de cuidar. En una sola palabra me permitió tener el foco para lograr realizar las acciones que impactaban los resultados. Esta nueva visión cambiará la forma de hacer negocios en el futuro. (Jorge Lozano Dubernard, former Director of Strategic Planning, Banca Serfin; CEO Max Marketing)

Allsenior managers know that complexities and bottlenecks exist throughout the organization. However, it is exceptionally rare that the management team has a common understanding of where they exist. Key issues are often discussed and it feels like we are attacking them blindfolded. The Managing from Clarity tools and process integrated our best thinking at the top and gave us a structured way to prioritize and address them as a team more quickly and more effectively...it is very powerful! (Elliot Paull, former Principal at A.T. Kearney)

Systems thinking is an incredibly valuable tool for understanding complex business environments and developing the sometimes unconventional insights which can propel a business forward. Having worked with Ritchie-Dunham and Rabbino in real world situations, I can say that no one is better at helping organizations translate the theory into useful practice. Through this book, many companies can now take advantage of their proprietary approach to understanding businesssystems. (Jay Weiss, Vice President, Sagebrush Wireless Holdings, LLC)

Central to the confusion, conflict, and, ultimately, collapse of many of the enterprises I work with is the combined effect of two things. First, a lack of shared understanding regarding the business (vs. the operations) of the enterprise. Second, an inability to deal with the exponential increase in the complexity of today's business environment as it effects both the internal and external dynamics of the enterprise. This approach resolves both of these issues simultaneously, changing the way leaders think, enabling them to literally 'get their mind around the business' and the complexities facing it. Anyone operating without the perspective (and the robust way of thinking) afforded by this thought-altering "toolkit" is, at best, at a severe strategic disadvantage; at worst, operating at the mercy of their competitive landscape. (Scott Spann, VP Operations, Consilient)

The GRASP methodology has the potential to becomethe next major innovation in business strategy. If you choose to use this approach in the daily management of your company, you will be able to easily stay on top of your business, seeing internal and external opportunities before your competitors do. This approach requires an upfront investment of time to develop such a deep understanding of your business. Once developed, however, it provides a shorthand means for having efficient and productive conversations about the most complex issues you face. (Kristin Cobble, Principal, Generative Strategies)

Managing from Clarity provides an intelligent and vivid introduction to an extremely powerful set of concepts and tools for strategy development. As consultants we often use complex spreadsheets to calculate the economic impact of alternative courses of action under different scenarios. If we have done our job well then these "models" would have been informed by true strategic insight. But even well constructed spreadsheet "models" are primarily devices for calculating the economic implications of strategic insights. Spreadsheet analysis is a clumsy tool for getting to those insights in the first place. Jim and Hal show us how to use systems thinking and the techniques of system dynamics simulation as true catalysts for developing strategic intelligence: Highly recommended to anyone who takes strategy seriously! (Andreas Koch, Principal, L.E.K. Consulting)

Ritchie-Dunham and Rabbino combine the conceptual insights from the academic literature with the savvy of consultants to provide a sound approach to managing any organization. They go beyond the usual recommendations regarding the need to understand organizations by offering a solid foundation for incorporating systems thinking into organizational strategy and change. These ideas hold value for the management of businesses in traditional or fast-changing environments, as well as for governmental agencies and policy makers. (James S. Dyer, The Fondren Centennial Chair in Business, University of Texas at Austin)

Finally, someone has harnessed the power of System Dynamics and crafted it into a useful tool for strategy development and strategic management. Jim and Hal's GRASP methodology provides an accessible framework for designing the inputs and understanding the outputs of System Dynamics. Managing from Clarity clearly demonstrates the potential insight that can come from systems thinking and its power to align an organization around a single view of the business model and strategic direction. (Michael J. Puleo, Director, Deloitte Consulting)

Business interactions and outcomes these days are far too complex to be understood, much less managed, in terms of traditional strategic thinking tools. The Managing from Clarityprocess enables business leaders to "get their mind around" the dynamic, multi-faceted system that IS their enterprise. This way of thinking has enabled me and my leadership team to better understand our business, clearly define our interdependencies, and, from this place of greater clarity, identify those few, critical "leverage points" from among the host of options on the table. Bottom-line, managing from clarity has enabled us to make better-informed resource allocation decisions. (Dan Farell, President, Distribution, TXU Electric & Gas)

The concepts and methods in Managing from Clarity address four critical challenges that futurists commonly face: characterizing complex issues (systems), building common understanding, providing insight into leverage points for taking action to move the system, and suggesting likely alternative futures. The insights gained frequently stimulate breakthrough thinking and empower action. While we will never totally take mystery out of the future, Managing from Clarity can help a great deal in reducing the unknown! (Jay Forrest, Futurist, Pteragenesis)

Over the last few decades, antibiotic resistance has emerged as a public health issue. Although everyone believes that use and resistance are correlated, the real how and why of the correlation is a bit of a "black box." Using the Managing from Clarity process has revealed some surprising interactions (leverage points), and confirmed the value of surveillance data. (Kate Hendricks, MD, MPH&TM, Board Certified Preventive Medicine, Texas)

Strategy is a dynamic process and as such requires dynamic tools. In its ability to model dynamic systems be they a business, a strategy, or a plague 'System Dynamics' is moving to center stage as an indispensable tool for enabling strategists and decision makers to manage from clarity. It is as central to the strategist's 'toolkit' as Excel is to a financial analyst or the genetic code is to a biochemist. Ritchie-Dunham and Rabbino describe their subject matter as Managing from Clarity. Their extraordinary contribution uses multiple practical examples, case studies, analogies, and a logical conceptual thread to enable the reader to learn with clarity. Congratulations on a fine treatment of a difficult subject. (Hans-Peter von Sicard, Executive Vice President, Emergence Consulting, former VP of Practice Development in Renaissance)

The Managing from Clarity process structured our thinking about how the critical pieces of our organization connect. It also helped us identify where were the key strategic resources and leverage points for our firm, and what we could realistically achieve, with regards to the complex and dynamic challenges our bank was facing at the time. The process and tools provided us a practical and effective way to get our group and its goals aligned around what really matters for our organization as a whole. This clarity allowed us to focus our energy as a management team around the problem itself and it strengthened our ability and enthusiasm to work together. Most importantly, we will never see our world as we did before. (Elizabeth Martínez, Senior Vice President, Department of Structured Finance, Banco Nacional de México)

En mi opinión una de las razones que otorgan valor de la metodología GRASP, radica en que ésta se concentra en "el grupo de liderazgo," en como este puede determinar el rumbo y como refuerza la comunicación y el conocimiento interno de todas las áreas. Se aprende a tratar la organización de manera total, tomando en cuenta el ambiente externo y su relación con todas las piezas internas "deptos, gerencias etc.," aun cuando éstas no sean mi responsabilidad directa. Fue muy interesante tener a SAPAL en blanco y negroen una hoja. Es una óptica diferente del negocio que ayuda a reafirmar, o definir, el curso actual y futuro de la organización. Se encuentran consecuencias esperadas o aun mejor las inesperadas. Fue una experiencia positiva y gratificante desdeel aspecto humano, tecnológico y organizacional. (Ernesto Enei, Gerente de Geo-Informática, SAPAL (Sistema de Agua Potable y Alcantarillado de León)

Decision-making in our project-framing workshop was made clearer by considering strategic and non-technical issues. This allowed individuals of the multifunctional team to GRASP the process with a focused understanding, rather than only being activity driven. (T.H.van der Harst, organizer, project framing workshop, Shell International Exploration and Production)

In today's fast past, complex working environment, managers and leaders are constantly searching for means and road-tested intuitive tools that help them lead their organizations successfully. In this book, the authors provide these means through their tested concept "Managing From Clarity". This concept provides leaders with the ability to understand the dynamics that relate the business to their organization, communicate these understanding, and move the organization to different directions ensuring continued success. I had the opportunity to see the authors implementing some of their concepts and providing this clear added value to management. It is great that now these concepts and methodologies can be communicated,used and implemented through this new book. (Emad A. Elrafie, Ph.D., Executive Manager - Delta R)

To create value in the commodity metals industry, it is imperative that management create and recognize opportunities, appreciating the requirementsof the stakeholders and pursuing them vigorously. It becomes really necessary to have a shared understanding of the contextual framework, based on systems thinking and the resource-based view. Managing for Clarity should be read by all managers involved in strategic planning. It makes my life easier. (Arturo Vaca, Director of Strategic Planning, Servicios Industriales Penoles)