JP Castlin wrote an article for Marketing Week titled Marketing strategy can be neither wholly planned nor wholly agile.

« It is not a failure to change a strategy when unexpected outcomes reveal a better approach, but neither can you let external forces dictate every decision. »

« Practical strategies can form as well as be formulated. They can, as it were, emerge. »

« Unlike traditional (deliberate) strategy, which plots a specific course, emergent strategy follows a direction but discovers the path along the way, arising in response to unexpected opportunities and challenges as the competitive reality in which the company acts changes over time. Or, to put it more colloquially, it adapts to what is found to work instead of stubbornly staying with what ought to have worked based on theory or forecasts. »

« let’s say that a salesperson ignores the target audiences defined in the marketing strategy…. The salesperson’s decision is entirely tactical. In fact, it goes directly against the set strategy. Yet if it turns out to be a success, and other salespeople therefore follow suit, the company will all of a sudden find itself having entered into a new market. That’s undeniably strategic. »

« if emerging but unexpected events and patterns are discovered in practice, clearly, the correct thing to do is to change the strategy to match reality »

« in practice, strategy requires both foresight and insight, and can [neither] be fully emergent [nor] be wholly deliberate. It should instead be a contextually determined balance of optionality and obligation between the two. »


For more on complexity and emergence, I recommend the book It’s Not Complicated by Rick Nason.

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