5. The Crescive Approach

This approach addresses the question "How can I encourage my managers to develop, champion, and implement sound strategies?" (Crescive means "increasing" or "growing"). The strategic leader is not interested in strategizing alone, or even in leading others through a protracted planning process. He encourage subordinates to develop, champion, and implement sound strategies on their own.

The crescive approach differs from the others in several ways. First, instead of strategy being delivered downward by top management or a planning department, it moves upward from the "doers" (salespeople, engineers, production workers) and lower middle-level managers. Second, "strategy" becomes the sum of all the individual proposals that surface throughout the year. Third, the top management team shapes the employees' premises -that is, their notions of what would constitute supportable strategic projects. Fourth, the chief executive functions more as a judge, evaluating the proposals that reach his desk, than as a master strategist.

Brodwin and Bourgeois suggest use of the Crescive Approach primarily for managers of large, complex, diversified organizations. In these organizations the strategic leader cannot know and understand all the strategic and operating situations, facing each division.

If strategies are to be formulated and implemented effectively, the leader must give up some control to spur opportunism and achievement. Therefore, the Crescive Approach for strategic management suggests some generalizations concerning how the chief executive of the large divisionalized firm should help the organization generate and implement sound strategies.

The recommendation consists of the following four elements:

  • Maintain the openness of the organization to new and discrepant information.
  • Articulate a general strategy to guide the firm's growth.
  • Manipulate systems and structures to encourage bottom-up strategy formulation.
  • Use the "the logical incrementalist" manner described by James Brian Quinn, to select from among the strategies which emerge.

The Crescive approach has several advantages. For example, it encourage middle-level managers to formulate effective strategies and gives them opportunity carry out the implementation of their own plans.

Moreover, strategies developed, as these are, by employees and managers closer to the strategic opportunity are likely to be operationally sound and readily implemented. However, this approach requires that funds be available for individuals to develop good ideas unencumbered by bureaucratic approval cycles and that tolerance be extended in the inevitable cases where failure occurs despite a worthy effort having been made.

One of the most important and potentially elusive of these methods is the process of shaping managers' decision-making premises. The strategic leader can emphasize a particular theme or strategic thrust to direct strategic thinking.

Second, the planning methodology endorsed by the leader can be communicated to affect the way managers view the business. Third, the organizational structure can indicate the dimensions on which strategies should focus.

The choice of approach should depend on the size of the company, the degree of diversification, the degree of geographical dispersion, the stability of the business environment, and, finally,the managerial style currently embodied in the company's culture.

Brodwin and Bourgeois's research suggests that the Commander, Change, and Collaborative Approaches can be effective for smaller companies and firms in stable industries. The Cultural and Crescive alternatives are used by more complex corporations.


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The Nature Of Strategy Implementation
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