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Tools and techniques: an overview.

Tools and techniques: an overview.

This is a very short paper that tries to set the most commonly used tools and techniques into context. When defining the problem that you are trying to solve, there are two important dimensions that can help to guide you. First, are the issues internal to our organisations or are they external to it, a part of the business environment? Second, is there a clear "thinking model" about the issue - for example, that this is just an issue of cost control, no more - or are you in fact trying to develop such a way of thinking? An example of that might be to try to understand how to think about the impact of artificial intelligence on the business sector, and what that means for everything from competition to national politics.

 strategic tools and techniques in context

The figure uses these two dimensions to separate out the most commonly used tools in strategic planning. The top left quadrant is inhabited by largely quantitative tools, useful for thinking about abstract issues for which the important variables are clear. By contrast, the lower right addresses internal issues that are poorly defined. Organisations tend to arrive at solutions to these through dialogue and general debate. These tools are structured ways of carrying out such conversations. They are often used in conjunction with other tools, one of which is scenario planning. This is placed in the upper right. This is both the most difficult quadrant to make useful to an organisation and also the most critical to its long-run success. It comprises understanding and communicating the relevant operating environment, and considering how that may change. Finally, the lower left has an array of focused tools aimed at well-defined issues that the orgaisation recognises as neededin to be solved. Most of these will be familiar to anyone who has worked on strategy in a large organisation.

Further guidance on the various uses and methods in scenario planning are available here.

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