A change navigation-based scenario planning process: an afrocentric, developing country perspective.

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dc.contributor.author Geldenhuys, Chris A.
dc.date.accessioned 2008-04-22T06:17:56Z
dc.date.available 2008-04-22T06:17:56Z
dc.date.issued 2008-04-22T06:17:56Z
dc.date.submitted September 2006
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10210/272
dc.description.abstract This thesis covers the development of a change navigation-based scenario planning process (CNBSPP) applicable to a Developing World and Afrocentric Leadership context. Life in organisations involves a continual series of disruptive and disorienting changes. Existing theories and practices often become obsolete under hyper-turbulent circumstances. Traditional analytical planning usually takes a linear approach assuming that tomorrow will be similar to today. This approach works well in a stable environment, but fails when discontinuous events throw existing planning models into disarray. Scenario-based planning as a building block for strategic conversations offers great value over other strategic planning processes when uncertainty is high. Companies operating in the midst of a changing business environment require the application of scenario-based planning and organisational change navigation in some form or other. These two disciplines are currently practised independently of each another. The random borrowing of a Developed World planning practice such as scenario-based planning from one context to another without ensuring contextual validity is a high-risk event. An appropriate process integrating scenario-based planning and organisational change navigation, which is embedded in a Developing World and Afrocentric Leadership context, is currently non-existent. This research promotes a combined approach to scenario-based planning and organisational change navigation, which needs to be applied in a particular context. Stories (or narratives) are naturally occurring phenomena through which people explain their experiences in the world. Stories add a psychological dimension that empirical data lacks, namely meaning. Storytelling (or strategic conversation) is the naturally occurring act of passing on information, values, norms, shared experiences/expectations and culture in the form of a story. This act serves to create understanding and build ownership. Scenario-based planning is a technique setting up a logical and plausible sequence of future environmental situations in order to show how a future state may evolve step by step. Scenarios reassemble a set of stylised narratives connecting a series of interrelated events (both facts and perceptions) about alternative futures. Scenarios describe not only the future end-state, but also what path the present will take to progress to that point. The organisational change navigation action serves to defuse the tension arising from the conversion between the “what is” and the “what should/must be” states in the company. This is known as the “in between state” or the void while moving from the current state to the future state. The primary objective of the research was to construct and empirically validate a blueprint process integrating scenario-based planning and organisational change navigation for application in a Developing World and Afrocentric Leadership context. The research process consisted of five stages, namely Stage 1: Multidisciplinary literature review and synthesis; Stage 2: Practice views; Stage 3: Process generation; Stage 4: Empirical validation; Stage 5: Discussion and interpretation; and Stage 6: Reflection. The criteria set for the CNBSPP were simplicity (i.e. the process is plain, simple and straightforward); comprehensiveness (i.e. the process embraces the full range of diversity included in the planning cycle); practicality (i.e. the process is concerned with actual use and practical issues); relevancy to context (i.e. the process is sensitive to the correct deployment of sound planning approaches/practices given the particular context); transparency (i.e. the process is open to public scrutiny); cost-effectiveness (i.e. the process appears to deliver a service at equal/lower cost than current practice); robustness (i.e. the process appears to be relatively stable with a minimum of variation in the face of changing circumstances); flexibility (i.e. the process is adaptable as circumstances dictate); involvement (i.e. the process allows for a high level of engagement by participants); completeness (i.e. the process includes all necessary steps to construct scenarios and navigate change properly); reliability (i.e. following the steps suggested in the process will probably yield consistent and dependable results); and validity (i.e. on the face of it, the process appears to be doing the work for which it was built). The scenario-based planning process consists of a number of basic steps, namely setting the scenario-based planning agenda; determining the focal business question; identifying and ranking the key global and local factors; selecting the scenario logics; fleshing out the scenarios; analysing the implications of the scenarios for the company; developing strategies based on the evolving scenarios; selecting the leading indicators to monitor the implementation of scenarios and strategies; and maintaining organisational learning. The organisational change navigation process consists of a few basic steps, namely mobilising dissatisfaction with the status quo; shaping a guiding coalition; diagnosing organisational problems; building organisational capacity; developing a shared vision; developing strategies and generating short-term wins; formalising the change; dismantling temporary transition structures and processes; and ensuring business learning. Afrocentric Leadership is characterised by a deliberate emphasis on people and their dignity, solidarity, participatory democracy and the collective brotherhood of mankind. Storytelling is an important practice in African cultures to transmit values and ethnics. The end-result of the literature survey was a CNBSPP applicable to a Developing World and Afrocentric Leadership context. The proposed process is similar to a cyclical road map in a complex and unpredictable external environment. The direction of the process is circular and every step is interconnected. The seven stages of the CNBSPP are Stage 1: Awakening and mobilisation; Stage 2: Driving forces identification and ranking; Stage 3: Alternative projections and scenario structuring; Stage 4: Interpretation and strategy crafting; Stage 5: Scenario implementation, capacity building and conversion; Stage 6: Stabilisation; and Stage 7: Performance tracking and review. The CNBSPP includes not only typical steps of scenario-based planning, but also theoretical and practical insights/views of complexity theory, storytelling and stories, organisational change navigation, Developing Worlds and an Afrocentric Leadership context. Key experts in scenario-based planning were offered an opportunity to list those phases/steps normally included in a typical scenario-based planning process, and unique factors that would strongly influence scenario-based planning in a Developing World and Afrocentric Leadership context. In addition, the experts were requested to critique an abbreviated version of a CNBSPP. The inputs received were used to develop and empirically validate the CNBSPP. It appeared that the steps “conducting an obstacles, negatives, positives and opportunities appraisal” and “building organisational capacity” were not specifically highlighted in interacting with the experts in scenario-based planning. The experts identified no steps in addition to those already ascertained during the literature review for inclusion in a CNBSPP. It appeared that various of the factors influencing scenario-based planning in a Developing World and Afrocentric Leadership context, which were identified in the literature review, were not emphasised by the experts. These factors were: appealing to the invisible agency forces of the spirits; having a shared vision; an evolutionary, bottom-up, present-into-future, process-based, people-driven and cyclical planning approach; the ubuntu philosophy; valuing the role of woman; democratic/participative leadership; low assertiveness; high entrepreneurship; average uncertainty avoidance; valuing seniority in age; a tendency to deviate from formal agenda items; sharing responsibility; emergent/flexible outcomes; and celebrating accomplishments. Those factors influencing scenario-based planning, which were raised by experts in addition to those identified in the literature review, were: carefully selecting the level of sophistication and use of technology; acknowledging different approaches to strategic planning; employing a practical approach to scenario-based planning; convincing the stakeholders of the need for a scenario-based planning approach; and dealing with the fear of doing strategic planning. The CNBSPP complied to some extent with all the evaluation design criteria set at the outset of the research. The participants were, however, of the opinion that the CNBSPP did not fully satisfy “cost-effectiveness” and “completeness”. Compliance with some of the criteria such as “cost-effectiveness” and “reliability” can be determined/confirmed with accuracy only once the CNBSPP is applied in practice. Maintaining expert participation (i.e. their availability) over the entire research period presented some challenges. The key experts requested to validate the CNBSPP empirically occupy top management positions in their respective companies, thus limiting their professional time available to participate in the research. Some participants indicated difficulty in reviewing an abbreviated version of the CNBSPP because of the limited information provided in the questionnaire. The empirical validation of the CNBSPP was not based on the process’s actual application in practice, i.e. practical compliance with the evaluation design criteria developed at the outset of the research was not established. The value-add of the research revolves around its theoretical, methodological and practical value. The research makes a unique contribution to the current level of knowledge by integrating scenario-based planning and organisational change navigation. The research resulted in producing a contextually aligned and empirically validated CNBSPP applicable to a Developing World and Afrocentric Leadership context, the practical application of which will enable companies to integrate various insights into different, but equally plausible interpretations about how the future might unfold. The contextually aligned and empirically validated CNBSPP can now be applied in practice. More research, particularly the use of qualitative methodologies, is required to supplement the currently rhetorical research conducted in the field of Afrocentric Leadership. The dominant Developed World management paradigm needs to move in the direction of valuing both the Developed World and Developing World management practices alongside each other as equally important. Developing Worlds should develop their own context/culture-specific strategic planning theories and practices instead of imitating the Developed Worlds. This does not constitute an outright rejection of the intellectual copying of best practices applicable to Developing World cultural realities. The development of effective and robust strategies requires far more than scenarios alone. Additional elements include things such as a vision, clear strategic goals/objectives, competitive analysis, and an assessment of core competencies and available resources. Scenario-based planning processes designed specifically for application in a Developing World and Afrocentric Leadership context should neither be regarded as inferior nor less professional. As long as the process meets the evaluation design criteria suggested in the research, it may be regarded as a “good” technique given the particular context. It is necessary to accept that the results obtained by using such a process are sometimes less reliable. This may to some extent represent limitations in the process itself, but more commonly it reflects the conditions in which it has to be used. There are practical constraints in Developing Worlds that make the attainment of an “ideal” scenario-based planning process difficult. These constraints are the lack of basic requirements such as money, skilled manpower and often inadequate/inaccurate data. en
dc.description.sponsorship Prof. Theo H. Veldsman en
dc.language.iso en en
dc.subject black executives en
dc.subject leadership en
dc.subject organisational change en
dc.subject culture en
dc.title A change navigation-based scenario planning process: an afrocentric, developing country perspective. en
dc.type Thesis en

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