An addendum on organisational strategic preparedness


for significant disruptive events


Revisiting organisational strategic management

(Part 6)


By Alan Stretton, PhD (Hon)

Sydney, Australia


In the fifth article of what was originally intended to be a five-part series on revisiting organisational strategic management (Stretton 2021f), I signalled an intention to add an addendum to the series in relation to organisational strategic preparedness to respond appropriately to significant disruptive events. This was prompted by revisiting some articles by David Pells (Pells 2009b, 2009a, 1999, 1998), and noting particularly his concerns about the need for responsive decision support models. I felt that some of the earlier materials in this series could be expanded to help address this topic, and this is the main concern of this article.   

We start with a summary of some of Pells’ concerns.


In Pells 2009a, the author is particularly concerned with a need for managers to gather global business intelligence, to help prepare them to respond appropriately to disruptive events. In the following quotation he describes disruptive events, and expresses a need for managers to be prepared to respond, as follows.

A disruptive change is a significant event with drastic consequences. The most obvious examples might be natural disasters based on extreme weather, a cyclone, hurricane or flood, for example. ……

Pells then cited 13 further examples, including “outbreak of pandemic disease”, which could be seen as remarkably anticipatory of the Covid-19 pandemic. This quotation then continued as follows.

Disruptive events can change your market, industry, organisation, program and project, by changing the entire environment within which you are working. While many such events cannot be predicted, executives should be prepared to respond.

Pells then goes on to advocate the development of robust decision support models to help managers respond appropriately. His suggested model includes three dimensions, which he describes as strategic, operational, and structural, as now discussed.


The strategic dimension

The strategic dimension is concerned with incorporating new business intelligence into the strategic planning process. In Pells 2009a the author discusses the art and science of environment scanning, trend spotting and analysis, and the need for responsive decision support models.

His concern is with questions such as how should significant developments and trends in the business, economic, political, social and technological spheres be incorporated into near and long term plans and actions. In Pells 1999 he suggests “a strategic planning model with categories of long range objectives, issues and strategies, that can be re-evaluated each year in light of significant events or changing trends. (In the more recent VUCA and Covid-19 environments, I am sure the author would be looking for much more frequent reviews and evaluations than annual ones).

The following model, Figure 6-1, provides for undertaking such reviews, and initiating responses, in relation to the external strategic drivers discussed in previous articles in this series. The outer ring of external strategic drivers was developed in the third article of the series (Stretton 2021a). This model shows a direct link from these to the Stage 6 strategic review and response group, to represent ongoing external influences scanning processes by responsible entities in Stage 6…


To read entire paper, click here

How to cite this paper: Stretton, A. (2021). An addendum on organisational strategic preparedness for significant disruptive events, Revisiting organisational strategic management, part 6; PM World Journal, Volume X, Issue V, May. Available online at  https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/pmwj105-May2021-Stretton-revisiting-organisational-strategic-management-6.pdf

About the Author

Alan Stretton, PhD     

Faculty Corps, University of Management
and Technology, Arlington, VA (USA)
Life Fellow, AIPM (Australia)


Alan Stretton is one of the pioneers of modern project management.  He is currently a member of the Faculty Corps for the University of Management & Technology (UMT), USA.  In 2006 he retired from a position as Adjunct Professor of Project Management in the Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS), Australia, which he joined in 1988 to develop and deliver a Master of Project Management program.   Prior to joining UTS, Mr. Stretton worked in the building and construction industries in Australia, New Zealand and the USA for some 38 years, which included the project management of construction, R&D, introduction of information and control systems, internal management education programs and organizational change projects.  He has degrees in Civil Engineering (BE, Tasmania) and Mathematics (MA, Oxford), and an honorary PhD in strategy, programme and project management (ESC, Lille, France).  Alan was Chairman of the Standards (PMBOK) Committee of the Project Management Institute (PMI®) from late 1989 to early 1992.  He held a similar position with the Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM), and was elected a Life Fellow of AIPM in 1996.  He was a member of the Core Working Group in the development of the Australian National Competency Standards for Project Management.  He has published over 230 professional articles and papers.  Alan can be contacted at alanailene@bigpond.com.au.

To see more works by Alan Stretton, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at http://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/alan-stretton/