In the face of increasing complexity, uncertainty and difficulty inthe design and implementation of reforms, companies,organizations and institutions must strive to capitalize on theprevailing disarray by acting wisely in overcoming it.
Strategicengineering is part of an integrative, tool-based approach, inspiredby the life sciences and creative recursion .This book is structured into three parts, which correspond to thethree main phases of the strategic engineering approach: observeand discern; judge and arbitrate; act and intervene. StrategicEngineering has wide appeal, relevant to senior leaders, decisionmakers, managers and practitioners within businesses,government and local authorities. It is also intended for those whowish to develop their capability in anticipatory or transformativemanagement within economic, sociopolitical and strategiccontexts.
Jacques Arcade is a statistician-economist and teaches on variousMaster?s programmes (Sciences Po Rennes, University ParisDauphine, University Paris 13 and the IRTS Foundation). He is achief technical adviser to the United Nations and headsconsultancy firms, leading many initiatives for forward-lookingthinking and strategic innovation.
The world is being shaken by economic and financial, geopolitical, socio-cultural, ethno-religious, health and epidemic-related, ecological, and climatic upheavals that foreshadow or bring about the advent of a new era for which we are insufficiently prepared. This new era, which we are insidiously making ever more inevitable, both through the persistence of our behaviors and through our relative apathy to the consequences, proves to be all the more drastic as it manifests itself in unexpected and unique ways on multiple scales of space and time. How could we, at our respective levels of action, contribute to confronting this strange adversity and its various implications in terms of uncertainty, perplexity, anxiety, and even disarray, against the backdrop of planetary crises? What methodological approaches and what primary skill sets can we see ourselves implementing to intervene rationally, taking advantage of such a situation, to overcome the "climate of downturn" and to open up new horizons for the long term?
The strategic engineering approach, the subject of this book, is an original contribution to meeting such a challenge. The transformative action that results from this approach proves to be well-reasoned and innovative, as shown by the organizational innovation it generates. Moreover, this action is cardinal, that is, decisive and archetypal, because of its pivotal nature and the agility that results from it. Moreover, this action is designed to be both engaging - right from the design phase - exhilarating and, throughout its implementation, even edifying - thanks to the appropriation that it generates and the virtuous dimension that it conceals and infuses.
Strategic engineering revolves around an integrated methodology for the creation and processing of strategic interventions, with the goal of assisting in carrying out the appropriate design, contextualized evaluation, and deployment of decisive interventions of a structuring nature.
The initial concept of strategic engineering is the result of a long period of development beginning in the 1980s, based on a systemic representation approach of the context of the intervention and the monitoring and evaluation of the situational strategic action. This approach was completed, at the end of the 1990s, in the form of a holistic and unifying reference framework or metamodel. Since then, various aspects of this framework have regularly been the subject of university master's courses, training seminars/workshops and in situ work sites. In addition, strategic engineering has given rise to the development of a demonstrator integrating the specialized tools succinctly presented in the book. This period of maturation of the strategic engineering approach has benefited from diversified experiences, both at the national and regional levels and in the framework of international organizations. This experience has been extended in key sectors of industry, advanced technologies, and services, including consulting, both within the framework of international structures and within the framework of international organizations and privately owned companies, as well as for public, civil and military administrations and organizations.
Strategic engineering is based on a conceptual, instrumental, and process-based interconnection between foresight exploration and strategic intervention. It seeks to combine conceptual relevance and operational excellence. It is in line with the fractal geometry movement, according to which many natural or ideal objects present, at each scale of observation, a complex, fragmented and irregular structure, which proves to be, following a principle of "self-similarity", analogous to that of the whole. Strategic engineering also draws inspiration from other aspects of complexity sciences, in particular by using the concept of the successive embrace or accretion of nested frames at different scales. This mechanism of abstraction at multiple levels of "meta-" order also corresponds to a spiral elevation, or rather a 3D vortex, leading to a phenomenon of dynamic "coalescence". This phenomenon induces a form of two-way emergence; this is to say, at once ascending, bringing together certain properties resulting from the interactions of the lower level, in the form of constraints, and descending, integrating certain properties resulting from the interactions of the lower level in the form of constraints, causing the lower levels to conform to the requirements of the higher level, which these have helped to generate. Strategic engineering draws inspiration from this principle of double emergence to map the context of strategic action. It is also enriched by methods borrowed from other disciplines (the sociology of organizations, policy analysis, integrative biology, physiology of action, object-oriented approach, etc.). It further uses various techniques of organization and decision support (i.e. a goal tree, table of actors' strategies, multicriteria selection, game and graph theories, convex optimization, a project logical framework, etc.). It does not claim to reinvent existing tools but works to bring them together, so as to react to them in a judicious and appropriate way, to complete them and to concoct a judicious and relatively new synthesis.
Without denying the pedagogical nature of a sequential or synoptic approach, strategic engineering has the advantage of being structured like a metamodel and thus can approach and solve questions relating to the different stages of the project cycle (anticipation, design, decision, implementation, monitoring of execution, and feedback) along the way, thanks to the flexibility of its systemic representation mode at several levels.
The underlying principle of this method, which stems from its praxeological dimension, implies that the evaluation of the overall performance of the intervention results from an assessment based on three complementary macrocriteria or viewpoints: finalism (appropriateness to the strategic frame of reference), pluralism with regard to the future (validity with regard to possible futures or "futurables"), and pragmatism (congruence with the intervention environment and context).
These criteria refer respectively to the main subsystems that make up the overall framework or "strategic landscape" of the intervention: the strategic frame of reference, the foresight scenarios, and the surrounding context. Thus, the hierarchical breakdown of the intervention's framework makes it possible to move systematically from the structure of nested frames to a tree-shaped structure of criteria describing the situation in its context; then to a "cascading" weighting of these criteria, in order to evaluate the strategic intervention in light of these criteria. Moreover, this breakdown can be carried out at different levels of aggregation. Strategic engineering integrates a process, characterized by the art of dialectcally and dynamically binding together the situational context, the vision, and the systemic relations between the participants, up to the limits of their space of initiatives. Thus, the "strategic", as a substantiated adjective embodying the essence of the underlying process of dissemination of decision and action, supplants and transcends the notion of strategy stricto sensu, once immersed in its situational context. This suggests the possibility of accessing a more subtle form of "physiology of strategy".
Strategic engineering favors the notion of adequacy over that of deliberate orientation or of a desired end state; that of guidance (autonomous, intuitive, and adaptive) over that of piloting, which has a mechanistic connotation; and that of effectiveness over that of efficiency, which is both more normative and restrictive. Beyond the traditional approaches in this area, strategic engineering is based on a fluid and harmoniously disseminated operational paradigm, so as to fit within the global context or strategic landscape of the action. Strategic engineering is a methodological and logical device for conceptualization and perspective setting, including some advanced tools of an unprecedented nature. As such, it constitutes a much-needed tool for anticipation, both meticulous and comprehensive. An original "tooled approach" process, combining optimization and post-optimization, allows anticipating and remixing any recommended solution in the best way possible, on the basis of the numerous parameters of the decision-making situation. Each solution profile can then be visualized through a triptych of dashboards allowing visualization and interpretation of most of the aspects and characteristics of this situation.
Strategic engineering is rooted in the mysteries of sociopolitical activity and its situational context. As such, we can no longer be nostalgic observers of an illusory world, so often typified by the glory days of the post-war era, in continuous expansion. From now on, we must mobilize ourselves in concert to try to contain, and even overcome, the alarming specter of the chaotic, ambiguous, and unpredictable world that is emerging at the dawn of the 21st century.
The strategic engineering approach proposed in this book is deployed in three phases so as to inform transformative action. These phases correspond, respectively, to the three parts of the book:
- - observing and discerning: contextualizing the situation and recommending a consistent set of options (Part 1);
- - judging and arbitrating: evaluating and remixing recommendations to decide on a successful intervention (Part 2);
- - acting and...