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Traditional Strategic Planning v Adaptive Action Planning

Describing the need to take action in spite of conditions.
Ask three questions: What do I see? So what does it mean? Now what can I do with this information?

There is a difference between traditional strategic planning and adaptive action planning.  The application of complexity theory to organizational behaviour allows us to think about planning for the future in new and different ways. Here are two lists.  Compare the factors.  


  1. Assumes the future is knowable
  2. Sets goals
  3. Pulls organization into the desired future
  4. Long and predictable time horizons (3-5 years)
  5. Many specific pre-determined strategies
  6. Close-ended: approved as a complete document; polished, printed and put on a shelf
  7. Owned and executed by management
  8. Major one-time investment to create the plan as a product


  1. Assumes the future is unpredictable.
  2. Defines Actions
  3. Pushes organization to live within its desired future
  4. Short and variable time horizons (quarterly and more frequent)
  5. A few key principles and strategies emerge when and where needed
  6. Open-ended: accepted as a framework to inform decision-making as circumstances change
  7. Owned and executed by each person or team, applying principles to their issues and concerns
  8. Continuous integration of planning with action, assessment and learning

Which kind of strategic plan would you rather create – a plan that sits on the shelf, or one that is referred to and adjusted as circumstances require? If it’s the latter – then choose Adaptive Action Planning!  

Bold Change Coaching can help your organization create an Adaptive Action Plan that suit your needs.  Just ask. Connect with for a custom quote. 



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