In the perfect C-suite, strategic planning and strategic thinking would go hand in hand. As is too often the case, however, strategic thinking occurs on an intermittent, informal basis. Senior management fails to inform this thinking with its regular, formal strategic planning, and vice versa. Robert W. Keidel, WG’66, GR’79, provides a framework to help decision-makers integrate the two in his newest book The Geometry of Strategy: Concepts for Strategic Management.
His argument is based in part on the idea that strategy can be broken down into four different “geometries” of thinking: point, linear, angular and triangular. Point thinking involves framing an issue in a black-or-white point of view. With linear thinking, we see within an issue its shades of gray. Angular thinking—illustrated as a two-by-two square grid—takes into account the black and the white of an issue.
Triangular thinking frames an issue in “color,” blending the concepts of autonomy, hierarchal control and spontaneous cooperation. It affords the user the ability to consider any complex situation or problem and discern the qualitative choices therein, whether they be about strategy, technology and organization, or competitiveness, growth and organization. Triangular thinking can be thought of as a way to model an organization’s nature.
Ultimately, Keidel provides his readers with a “strategic scaffolding” to put together all four geometries of thought. With this scaffolding, business leaders can build the “shared values and concepts, images and frames, metaphors and models,” Keidel writes—in essence, both the history and the direction for a company.
Keidel is a clinical professor of management at the LeBow College of Business at Drexel University and serves as principal of an eponymous consulting firm based in Philadelphia. He previously was a senior fellow at the Wharton School, a corporate manager, a program consultant at the National Center for Productivity and Quality of Working Life, and a Naval officer.