Everything Important for Strategic Planning I learned in Quantum Physics Class

Posted by Harry Hertz, the Baldrige Cheermudgeon (or Baldrige Geek this week)

19388845 I have seen the future and it’s name is agility.

According to a just released McKinsey study of 1,416 executives around the globe, there are four strategically important global developments that will be most important for business and company profits over the next five years. They are:

  1. an ongoing shift in economic acivity from developed to developing economies
  2. growth in the number of consumers in emerging markets
  3. a free flow of information worldwide, enabled by new technologies, and
  4. global labor markets.

Combine these developments with the finding that 63% of McKinsey respondents expect increased overall volatility to become a permanent feature of the global economy and another 23% (that’s 86% in total) expect sharply higher levels of volatility undermining the economy’s robustness, and agility will be the strategic watchword for the coming decade.

We will need to get out of the crisis mode and assume these characteristics will be a reflection of “business as usual.” We will need strategic planning processes that are senitive to early indications of major shifts in technology, markets, and customer preferences (globally). We will need a sensitive process for finding blind spots. Does this sound familiar? It is already embedded in the Strategy Development Item (2.1) of the Baldrige Criteria for Performance Excellence.

In the language of a scientist, we will need quantum planning. As a matter of fact, this very idea is covered in a 2009 book by Gerald Harris, entitled The Art of Quantum Planning. Its basic premise is planning in an uncertain, change-laden, energy-rich environment is the mode of planning that will lead to success. It recognizes the organization as an ever-changing system with significant transfers that defy current practice. It is a layman’s adaptation of quantum physics to strategic planning. And I had to take two semesters of quantum physics in college to come to this realization in my mature-baby-boomer years! There you have it and you don’t need to be up on your calculus or physics.

Comments are welcomed from strategic planners and physicists, and anyone else willing to dive into my quantum well!

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About Barbara Fischer

NIST Baldrige
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5 Responses to Everything Important for Strategic Planning I learned in Quantum Physics Class

  1. Bryan Zak says:

    Yesterday, in a small Chamber of Commerce luncheon where the presenters were a State Senator and a Representative I became aware of one of the results of what happens when a shift in an intended outcome because the strategic plan was not integrated with the expected outcome takes place. A State grant was given to a group in order to boost the economy in a small community. Overtime, and because there were not restrictions on the specifications for the grant the purpose morphed and now directly competes with existing business owners. Originally, the purpose was to provide year round ferry service to the remote community and after the ferry and millions of dollars were provided by the State, the purpose is now seasonal tour operations very much the same as existing businesses that already exist. So at the luncheon during questions and answers, the State Senator and Representative were mercilessly challenged by the existing tour operators. This is a good example of a need for Quantum planning coupled with agility at the policy and planning level which is well integrated with the intended outcomes, especially when we take into consideration the future holds:
    1. an ongoing shift in economic acivity from developed to developing economies
    2. growth in the number of consumers in emerging markets; and
    3. a free flow of information worldwide, enabled by new technologies, and global labor markets.

  2. Michael P. Levy, CMQ/OE says:

    Seeing the future and doing something about it are separated in space and time. I completely agree with Harry Hertz that constant change and economic shifts will be the “new normal” for the foreseeable future and will require a strategic planning process that is agile in a quantum physics sort of way. Unfortunately, knowing and doing are two very different things. For example, people know they should: lose weight, quit smoking, exercise more, eat better, drink less, etc., etc., yet it is very difficult to do for many people. In some cases, and for some people, it is just plain hard to change old habits. My suspicion, as it relates to strategic planning, is that it will be equally difficult for a large number of organizations to change from the “classical” approaches to strategic planning they currently employ to one that is more agile and more quantum in approach. It has been said that old habits die hard. Those organizations that are able to make the change now to a more agile approach to planning will have the opportunity to take advantage of rapid change and be successful in the present as well as in the (uncertain) future. The question then becomes, as it so often does, a human nature issue: “How do we get more people to ‘do’ more of those things that they ‘know’ are a good thing to do?” Statistically, and humanistically, this is a tough problem.
    Hmmm, so maybe this quantum physics stuff will actually catch on one day, if I could just get more people to do something with it now…

  3. Lew Rhodes says:

    Harry-
    Two days after we spoke at Quest I flew to LA for the 10th Annual In2:In Thinking Network Forum sponsored by Pratt-Whitney Rocketdyne. Participants were from all sectors. This year’s theme: “Juggling Roles, Goals, and Context.” and my invited presentation was titled: “The Juggler’s Quantum Paradox …and an X-factor required to solve it.”
    That’s why I was interested when I saw your recent blog posting – “Everything Important for Strategic Planning I learned in Quantum Physics Class and your insights:
    “I have seen the future and it’s name is agility….. We will need to get out of the crisis mode and assume these characteristics will be a reflection of “business as usual.” … In the language of a scientist, we will need quantum planning…. Comments are welcomed from strategic planners and physicists, and anyone else willing to dive into my quantum well!”
    Since I’m already in that “well” I’d like to share some thoughts based on what I’ve been learning inside it that go to the issue we briefly touched on at Quest – Why has school system and superintendent participation at Quest been declining? Why isn’t Baldrige on the plates of the major advocates of systemic reform?
    Could there be a “5th Why” level of understanding you’re not starting from?
    I’ve touched on my sense of that Quantum “Why? in four sequential posting on my blog — http://www.sabusense.com/?p=464.
    With that shaping my way-of-thinking I can see several ways that your group’s work can be more directly tied to current systemic improvement efforts, and especially to the Race-to-the-Top. If that’s something you’d be interested in, I’d look forward to sharing it with you and Jeff.
    Best,
    Lew

  4. Matt Ruh says:

    I am a student at the University of Dayton currently in IET 321 a Quality Management class. I agree with Harry strategic planning is very important when it comes to addressing the rapid changes occurring. Strategic planning will help develop a plan to stay ahead of the curve and not be blindsided by changes. The goals and objectives of companies need to align with the changes. These strategic plans also need to have stipulations in place that can account for a sudden change. The ability of a company to adapt to changes will determine its ability to be successful or not.

  5. T.Z says:

    I am a student at the University of Dayton with a major in Industrial engineer and and a minor in quality. As a student in college I have grown up in a very technological world that is always change. Who know what to expect in the future if I would of told someone 30 year ago what the world is like today there is no way they would believed me. Technology is a very important aspect of our live and has almost completely taken over our lives. People are staring to become dependable upon technology for example if someone looses there phone they loose all there contacts because no one remembers phone numbers anymore that was the phone is for and so on with other technology. I believe a company needs to focus on keeping up with technology to have a competitive edge. Technology and the change of our world should be a main focus in today strategic plan. Not only is technology changing the way we do things it is also make the world a smaller place with opens up new marks and allow us to work with new people.

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