October 4, 2017
The Centre for Strategic and Policy Studies (CSPS) recently conducted a workshop on Strategic Planning using Systems Thinking. This distinct approach to strategic planning was conceived by the late Stephen G Haines. Globally renowned, the Haines Centre has consulted organisations worldwide on how to use the systems thinking approach to holistically ‘manage’ their strategies rather than to merely ‘plan’ for it.
Facilitators for the workshop were CSPS Researchers Dr Diana Cheong, Dr Sophiana Chua Abdullah, and Yuzilawati Abdullah who each hold a Gold Mastery Certification in the Systems Thinking Approach to Strategic Management (Haines Centre for Strategic Management). Stephen Lin who is the Managing Director for the Haines Centre for Strategic Management (Asia) also assisted in the facilitation of the drafting of each participant’s Strategic Plan.
According to Stephen Lin, CSPS may be commended for value adding to the Systems Thinking approach by incorporating an extra curricula module on Strategic Foresight. Participants of this workshop were required to attend a previous workshop on Strategic Foresight as a prerequisite.
The Strategic Foresight tools taught during the previous workshop were used to envision and systematically study the preferred future first before working towards developing appropriate strategies. As Dr Cheong explained, the CSPS model is more pro-active compared to the traditional method of starting with a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analysis to assess the current state before envisioning the desired outcome which can constrain strategic planners to be more preoccupied with addressing current state issues and be less oriented on the future and outcomes.
Haji Mohd Rozan bin Dato Paduka Haji Mohd Yunos also provided the workshop with an overview of strategic planning in Brunei Darussalam, as an invited speaker.
Participants commented on the intuitiveness of the systems thinking approach to strategic planning. The structured design of the systems thinking process, which involves 10 clearly defined steps, makes it easy to explain bottom up to senior management and top down to those working on the ground. Facilitators were viewed as very ‘capable’, ‘helpful’ and provided lots of useful local examples by way of illustration.