Critical discussion of John Kay’s view of strategy
In the economic field, no consensus has been arrived at the definition of strategy. Readings by Wittington compared how various theories of strategies respond to the question “what is strategy?” by analyzing different assumptions underpinning the various theories regarding human nature as well as individual action-environment link. The design school suggested that businesses could plan strategy, while processual perspective believes strategy is a product of trial ad error (Whittington, 2001). In the article “strategy and delusion of grand designs”, John Kay (1999), one of the most well-known economists in the UK, proposed that “Strategy is not planning, visioning or forecasting – all remnants of the belief that one can control the future by superior insight and superior will”, which challenged the design school of strategy that highlighted the importance of vision and plan. The essay is aimed to identify the nature of strategy through a critical discussion of John Kay’s view. Kay’s view recognizes the interaction with environment and market, but his view ignores culture and learning that can help businesses deal with turbulent environment.
There are many fallacies of the view that strategy is about planning, visioning or forecasting. Kay’s view of strategy identified the delusion of control through planning, vision or forecasting. Kay’s view holds water given the fallacies of the notion that the strategy is about planning, visioning or forecasting. The remnants of belief that businesses can control the future are based on the assumption that it is possible to analyze the environment and thereby businesses can identify opportunities and threats. Moreover, there is an assumption that there is a grand strategy for coping with the environmental changes. Nevertheless, the fallacies are obvious, which are explained as follows,
First, the view of designing, planning or furcating oversimplifies the situation, which leads to the distortion of the reality. The fact is that while many businesses have planned, designed and forecasted the future, they cannot sustain their businesses, but collapse. In the 1960s and the 1970s, planning was taken as the best approach to have desirable productivity and profits based on the assumption of measurability of plan (“STRATEGIC PLANNING”, n.d.). Nevertheless, the fact is that there are full of unpredictable changes and variables in economy, industry, society and market. In this sense, the conventional strategic planning has its limitations as the planning, visioning or forecasting cannot lead to predictable success. For instance, Sony Corporation, once described as Japan’s technological prowess, swept the world with Walkman. While the company had the plan and vision, it failed to predict its failure in the future when Apple Inc. introduced a winning innovation, that is iPod based on the alignment of ecosystem (Adner 2015). It can be seen that changes are not all the t...