Strategic Thinking and the New Science

Strategic Thinking and the New Science

Planning in the Midst of Chaos Complexity and Change

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The future is happening today, and the most successful organizations will be those that understand the dynamics of the "big picture" in which their decisions are being made. This book describes how to understand and influence that picture. Irene Sanders pioneered the application of chaos theory and complexity to strategic thinking -- the most essential skill in today's fast-paced business environment. Now, in this straightforward, easy-to-read book, she shows how the most up-to-date strategic thinking is done, and how you can begin using it in your enterprise.

Sanders' original and practical approach moves far beyond traditional forecasting, futuring and scenario-building. The new science of chaos and complexity has shown scientists and business professionals alike the importance of looking at the world as a whole system, rather than as a collection of deterministic principles. Consequently, the human mind -- through the integration of intuition and intellect -- is now recognized as the only information processor capable of understanding the level of complexity in today's global business environment. By engaging the mind's eye through the use of visual thinking, Sanders shows you how to develop insight about the present and foresight about the future, thereby allowing you to see and influence the future as it is emerging. The new planning paradigm presented in Strategic Thinking and the New Science is nothing less than a transformation of the science of business.

For the first time in history, we have the knowledge, tools and techniques to develop visual thinking as the essential insight/foresight skill of the future. In addition to breakthroughs neuroscientists have made about brain-mind interactions, artists and psychologists are revealing the role of imagery in the creative process. And now, the new field of scientific visualization brings all of this information together with computer graphics to demonstrate how visual images can be used to engage our imaginations, enhance learning -- and stimulate our deeper levels of awareness.

In this groundbreaking book, Sanders is the first to define the new model of strategic thinking -- a model that is bound to revolutionize organizations of all types as they begin to see and influence their futures -- today.
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  • Free Press | 
  • 192 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451624281 | 
  • September 2010
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Listen to the Footprints

You must first be on the path, before you can turn and walk into the wild.

Gary Snyder

The Practice of the Wild

Imagine what it would be like if every day were just like the day before. Only one season, spring. Trees and flowers in full bloom. Children, the same children, play in the park; no births, no deaths. Politicians give the same speeches over and over. No new wrinkles, gray hair, or bulges at the waistline. The sweetness of spring fills the air and our hearts are open to all possibilities. Only there aren't any. In a world of sameness, the only... see more

Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions
1. What is strategic thinking? Why is it important? What methodologies does your company use in its strategic thinking efforts? Have those efforts been successful? In what ways could your company's strategic thinking be improved? In your company, who is responsible for strategic thinking?
2. Describe the basic principles of mechanistic thinking? (Chapter 1, pages 38-50) Identify the ways in which your company's management and operations are based on mechanistic principles. What are the benefits and/or limitations of this approach?
3. What is the new science of chaos and complexity? (Chapter 2) In what ways might this new way of thinking about change be useful to you?
4. Identify other companies that have demonstrated industry foresight? What did they do that demonstrated foresight and what were the outcomes/benefits of their actions? How might the new science explain the dynamics at work in these events?
5. What are the two major components of strategic thinking? And what guidelines or principles does the new science offer for strategic thinking? (Chapter 3, pages 78-79)
6. What is visual thinking and why is it so important? In what ways did visual images help scientists understand the dynamics of non-linear systems? (Chapter 4) In what ways does visual thinking facilitate strategic thinking?
7. What is the difference between forecasting and foresight? (Chapter 5, pages 107-112) What is a FutureScape¬ô and how see more

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