Revisiting organisational strategic management:

A recursive organisational strategic management model, and responsibilities for managing various stages

(Part 1)



By Alan Stretton, PhD (Hon)

Sydney, Australia




In the current VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) environment which has been so dramatically exacerbated by the Covid-19 virus, it would appear timely to revisit some aspects of organisational strategic management processes. I have written quite extensively on these topics in recent times in this journal, including a series of five articles starting with Stretton 2018d. The relevance of these topics to programs and projects is that the latter are virtually all undertaken in the context of helping achieve organisational strategic objectives. Therefore, VUCA-related factors that impact organisational strategies also impact their component programs/projects.

We will be looking at the following subjects in this series of five articles that revisit some aspects of organisational strategic management. These will reframe some topics I have written about previously, and introduce some new ones, particularly in relation to strategic drivers.

  1. A recursive organisational strategic management model, and responsibilities for managing various stages;
  2. Augmenting the recursive strategic management model to help manage changes impacting outcomes and benefits;
  3. Deliberate and emergent strategies, and a classification of strategic drivers;
  4. Incorporating strategic drivers into the recursive strategic management model, and discussing differences between industries;
  5. Accelerated VUCA-related disruptors as strategic drivers, and organising for rapid strategic responses

We will not be moving immediately into considerations of accelerated strategic response modes appropriate for the Covid-19 era, but will develop models which progressively suggest how to build up VUCA-related capabilities leading towards this end – which is more specifically addressed in the fifth article of the series.


Organisational strategic management is an ongoing task within organisations, and is therefore a recursive process. However, in the project management literature it is typically represented in essentially linear formats – often as triangles, with components such as organisational vision and mission at the apex, followed by more detailed extensions into strategic planning and execution.

I have been using a more conventional linear format for some time. Both this, and the triangular format, are convenient for discussing the roles of individual strategic initiatives and their component projects. However, it is common for several, and often many, strategic initiatives to be in play at any one time. Additionally, new initiatives are introduced, whilst older initiatives approach and achieve completion. These ongoing features would appear to be more appropriately represented in a circular ongoing format. Additionally, VUCA calls for increasingly frequent reviews of their impacts on existing strategies, of needs for revised and/or new strategies, and/or other adaptive responses, which would appear to be best represented by its own text-box in a recursive type model.

Accordingly, I look first to transpose my linear model into a circular recursive format, and add a specific provision for ongoing strategic management reviews, and appropriate responses when needed. I then discuss what some of the literature has to say about pervasive difficulties that most organisations appear to have in effectively implementing strategies. A primary cause of such difficulties is evidently ineffective decision-making and governance at the executive management level, and some of the operational issues here are discussed in further detail – particularly frequent executive management reviews, and decision making about responses.

Another cause of ineffective strategy implementation is too much fragmentation in the processes. This can be substantially ameliorated by the appointment of managers who are specifically accountable for the operational stages of the strategic sequence. This leads to quite substantial discussion of the role of strategic portfolio management to oversee all current strategic initiatives, and of strategic initiative management in managing all aspects of individual initiatives from inception to completion.


To read entire paper, click here

How to cite this article: Stretton, A. (2020). A recursive organisational strategic management model, and responsibilities for managing various stages; Revisiting organisational strategic management (1); Series article. PM World Journal, Vol. IX, Issue XI, November. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/pmwj99-Nov2020-Stretton-Revisiting-organisational-strategic-management-1-a-recursive-model.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 200 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/.