Strategy   |   Operations   |   Growth

Fuelling growth and competitiveness

Running successful operations today means having a vision for tomorrow.

Strategy and Operations along with people being a critical pillar of a strong operating model that supports growth, are part of the optimal performance equation.

And this calls for implementation of value-adding best practices that reduce risk and increase competitiveness, now and in the future.

Accenture Strategy key questions of interest both to academics and business leaders: 

How will your business model respond to disruption?

How will we allocate resources? Budgets? People?

Are our core capabilities sufficient for sustainable competitive advantage?

How can partners in the ecosystem support our growth strategy?

Without an operating model addressing these questions, strategic growth initiatives fail

Over 80% of executives agree that operating models are a driver of strategic growth. Yet only 22% say their company’s operating model is helping them put strategic growth initiatives into action.

Why is the link between operating models and strategy so broken?

Many strategies fail because they are not clearly put into action through the company’s operating model. Not sufficient attention is paid to supplier risk management, as well as volatility management.

To fuel growth and competitiveness, there are 3 critical areas to get right:

  • link your operating model to your growth strategy and business model.
  • create your people plan.
  • use digital as fuel for growth

To boost competitiveness, you need strategies that work today, but that also take a wider view and offer flexibility for the future.

Strategy Management Dynamics & Systems Thinking

Strategy Dynamics

This line of research, bridges organisational research and system dynamics thinking. The aim is to advance the discipline of strategy dynamics and to encourage widespread use of the SD approach in business. It explores insights relating to strategy development and execution, as well as in operations and performance management issues, offering new perspectives in executive education to support client change agendas.

Strategies that span across a broad range of industry sectors and areas anging from strategic management and leadership to marketing excellence and growth sustainability. 

Strategy Dynamics – under the expert tuition of Professor Kim Warren – aids a practical understanding of leadership and change, by exploring and delivering effective strategies for restructuring.

The Trouble with Strategy… and how to fix it

In the field of strategy is unprofessional and badly flawed, having poor theory and few reliable principles, leaving management with only little to help them do strategy well.

Dr. Kim Warren; PhD

Dr. Kim Warren is a leading expert on Strategy Dynamics. His research interest focuses on improving managerial decision making in complex systems, and computer simulation of corporate strategy.

He is also an expert in the design and execution of operational strategy dynamics relating to organisational change and process improvement, competitive positioning , growth and brand management dynamics. He is actively involved in developing robust strategies associated with business performance improvement Initiatives for major corporations worldwide.

Dr. Warren

Kim Warren   Strategy Dynamics online

Collaborations with leading consulting firms have extended the scope of Strategy Dynamics’ impact to corporate strategy, equity analysis, technological disruption and due-diligence for M&A and private equity deals. Recent applications include the UK Government’s Department for International Development, Microsoft Inc, Visa International, BT plc, Barclays Bank, Schneider Electric and PWC, and other public sector and voluntary organisations.

Most recently, his work has proved directly applicable to issues in international development, such as Aid for Trade, and supporting Private Sector Development in emerging countries, through the UK Dept for International Development.

Testimonial   Testimonials

Strategy Dynamics Collaborations / Links   SD Links

Best Practices Insight on the Predictability of Uncertainty:

“The world is the way it is today because companies like Microsoft, Tesco, CNN, Ryanair, Toyota and thousands of others have made it like this, not because of some unstoppable natural force.”

Insight: Core Values & Beliefs of the Strategy Dynamics Approach

Professor Kim Warren – London Business School – Chief Executive Strategy Dynamics U.K

“It can be hard for managers to decide how the neat bullet-points of a mission statement translate into real decisions and practical action, in addition, conventional strategy tools don’t link business decisions to business results in a measurable, transparent way, although STRATEGY DYNAMICS does.”

Insight: Core Values & Beliefs of the Strategy Dynamics Approach

Professor Kim Warren – London Business School – Chief Executive Strategy Dynamics U.K

Strategy Dynamics key questions of interest both to academics and business leaders: 

  • Why do some firms in an industry consistently outperform rivals and why does performance over time often falls far short of potential?
  • What causes creative new strategies to fail, even if they are properly differentiated from rivals?

How can we design the operating polices of firms to ensure they deliver the intended strategy?

The Strategy Dynamics Solution

for High Performance Transformation Management

A unique approach to understanding the dynamics of competition, portfolio diversification, transformation and growth.

Offering an integrated perspective on strategic management, by combining strategy tools and dynamic frameworks.

Optimisation and simulation techniques to rigorously analyse the dynamics that arise, as to design more effective policies and strategies.

Focus includes:

  • Competitive strategy and the process of building resources to achieve superior performance
  • Managing high performance transformation – the process of successfully transforming resources in a changing competitive environment
  • The dynamics of business portfolio differentiation and diversification
  • Modeling and simulation to help management teams to visualise strategic options outcomes
  • Technological change and its impact on company strategy and industry structure
  • The impact of organisational learning on performance.

The DRBV framework

A dynamic resource-based Framework Contributing to Strategy Theory

A versatile model for structuring problems, within the dynamic resource-based view (DRBV) framework, to analyse strategy and the evolution over time of a company’s performance and competitive advantage thresholds.

The DRBV framework

Sysdea online modeling software

Think Forward, Think Clearly

Models to improve decision-making performance and competitiveness, incorporating concepts of circular causality, stock accumulation, resource flows and information feedback to represent, visualise, and simulate business systems.

Sysdea Model – Building an Engineering Business

Sysdea video   Strategy Dynamics Marine Engineering Model lecture

Systems Thinking

The first step in systems thinking is to answer the question:

“What is the purpose of the system you want to build?”

Dr. Russel Ackoff; PhD – Professor Emeritus of the Wharton School

Synthetic Thinking

Dr. Russel Ackoff, is famous for advocating that managers need to rethink how they approach problem solving in general and innovation in particular.

He calls this process ‘‘systemic’’ thinking.

Analysis of a system reveals how it works but synthetic thinking is required to explain why it works the way it does.  Systems thinking integrates the two.

Synthetic thinking is a way of thinking about and designing a system that derives the properties and behavior of its parts from the functions required of the whole.

Knowledge is transmitted through instructions, which are the answers to how-to questions. Understanding is acquired through explanations, which answer the why questions.

As it is often the case, managers do not understand the importance of this difference. They tend to have a lot of knowledge but little understanding of the complex systems they manage and the environments in which they operate.

The organisation as a social community system

In order to think systemically, you need to understand the relationship between the parts and the whole.

The conception of a corporation that its parts exist only to serve the purposes of the whole and the whole has no obligation to serve the purposes of the parts is defunct.

Equally, managing the actions of their organisations’ parts separately, fails to address how the interactions of the parts, and the parts with the whole and its environment, create the properties of the whole.

On top the assumption that improving the performance of the parts separately necessarily improves the performance of the whole, is debatable at best.

As a consequence, we should no longer treat a corporation as a biological system, but rather treat it as a social system.

A social system has purposes of its own. So do its parts, and so do the systems that contain it and the other systems they contain.

And management must concern itself with the whole business ecosystem, thinking of the organisation as a social community system, and not as an organism.

dr_video   A System cannot be divided: Systems Thinking – Creativity – Reality

To be successful one must understand the nature of a system

For Russel Ackoff , a system is a whole defined by one or more functions, that consists of two or more essential parts that satisfy the following conditions:

(1) each of these parts can affect the behaviour or properties of the whole;

(2) none of these parts has an independent effect on the whole; the way an essential part affects the whole depends on what other parts are doing; and

(3) every possible subset of the essential parts can affect the behaviour or properties of the whole but none can do so independently of the others.

Therefore, a system is a functioning whole that cannot be divided into independent parts and be effective and purposeful.

That’s where the employees’ personal interests and purposes, attitudes, aspirations, and values come into play for the survival and growth of the enterprise.

This implies the need to think systemically of their organisations as systems in which people individually and collectively played the key roles.

Therefore, a transformational leader is one who can create and facilitate the pursuit of a transformed system vision, where employees can perform better tomorrow than the best they can do today, so as to maximize their contribution to the organisation as a whole.

Advice to a practicing manager on how to become a more effective strategist and leader:

  • First, to get educated on what’s happening in the culture and the new world. To become aware of the nature of the fundamental intellectual transformations taking place and what their implications are for the future of business and management generally.
  • Second, to attach themselves to people who show creative thinking and engage with them in the process of redesigning, from scratch and with no constraints, the systems they manage.

Dr. Russel Ackoff; PhD

Professor Emeritus of the Wharton School

Dr. Russell L. Ackoff was one of the pioneers in management education in areas including, teaching and learning and systems theory – referred to as the dean of the systems thinking community. One of the founders of operations research and systems thinking, linking science and business.

Dr. Ackoff

Doing Things Right: Doing something you shouldn’t have done

Striving is Different from Troubleshooting

Articles & Books

Dr. Ackoff has published 22 books and over 200 articles in a variety of journals and books. Has consulted with more than 350 corporations and 75 governmental agencies in the United States and abroad.


Peter Senge on Systems Thinking

Peter Senge, author of The Fifth Discipline, Senior lecturer at MIT and Founder of the Society for Organizational Learning shares his perspectives on leadership and systems thinking.

Risk-adjusted opportunities to fuel growth

Strategic, Financial & Operational Riskmetrics

 Strategic, Financial and Operational risks exist in every type and size of organisation.

The discipline of Risk Management is at the forefront of leading business practices, especially in investment management.  Companies are taking on more responsibility for their financial futures.

Subjective probability and state preferences are tools for dealing with perceived uncertainty. Riskmetrics, such as variance of return helps to operationally define the aspects of perceived risk.

“As complexity grows, risk management requires organisations to shift from top down command and control to decentralised management — to rely on co-evolving, self-adaptive sub-groups and individuals.

New approaches are needed to sustain, de-bias, and enhance the performance of these distributed, emergent parts so that the whole improves its risk management capability. They require an understanding of individuals’ decision processes and then designing decision aids for improving their choices.”

Barry G. Silverman, Director of the Ackoff Center for Advancement of the System Approach (ACASA) in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) at the University of Pennsylvania.

Risk and the Cognitive Era

Sheila Bair discusses risk management and how cognitive analytics can make sense of complex data to help people and institutions manage risk and outthink complexity.

Risk and the Cognitive Era: Getting Closer to Customers with Cognitive

Cognitive computing is an opportunity to get closer to customers and generate better understanding – from risk analysis to fraud to security.

Metlife is at a new frontier with cognitive computing for how they interact with customers and ultimately for providing the ability to compete, lead and win in the marketplace.

Discover how IBM Watson is working with experts in the field to transform risk elements in the Finance Industry

It all comes down to this: How can you identify and take advantage of risk-adjusted opportunities to fuel growth?

Strategic, financial & operational riskmetrics focuses on the analysis and implementation of consistent, systematic approaches to managing risks across business operations.

Risk is a measure of a project’s inability to achieve system life cycle objectives:

  • Assurance of Program Viability
  • Provision of Operational Capability
  • Assurance of Integration with Operational Environment
  • Delivery within Negotiated Baseline

It comprises of two components:

  • the probability of failing to achieve particular system life cycle objectives, and
  • the consequences of failing to achieve those objectives


Risk management is the act or practice of controlling risk

For effective risk management, you need to build a successful Risk Management Process in identifying, assessing, and managing risk. Monitoring risk areas, developing risk mitigation plans and performing risk assessments to determine how risks have changed.

Risk Analysis and Management Toolkit

The purpose of this Toolkit is to provide access to material, processes, practices and expertise to facilitate program management activities and improve productivity.

The Risk Analysis and Management Toolkit contains risk management guidance, checklists, risk identification, analysis, and management tools, as well as tutorials.


How to use the Risk Analysis and Management Toolkit

The most important part of your risk management effort is process and the way you use it.
The “Process Assets” compartment of this toolkit contains tools that can help you define, implement, and monitor a risk management process on your program or within your organisation. These tools include guidance, steps, and descriptions of elements of the process.

The “Support Assets” compartment of the toolkit contains detailed information that you can use at specific steps of the process.

It is our view that managing risk is a process driven by the key business objectives and strategies.

We continually update our knowledge from the risk professional and academic community, across multiple sectors on risk management best practices.


Discover Actionable Insights on  Strategy, Operations & Growth

  • Dr. Warren has pioneered the development and use of the Management Learning Simulators” known as MicroworldTM used in interactive simulations in executive education and the myStrategyTM planning software and the powerful, easy to use Sysdea online modelling software, for organisational problem solving, used by corporations and universities around the world.

    Dr. Warren has an engineering background, an MBA and PhD from the London Business School. His early career was spent in the oil and petrochemicals industry. He was later retail strategy director for Whitbread PLC during the group’s transformation to become the dominant operator in many leisure sectors.

    In addition to publishing numerous scholarly and popular articles and books, Dr. Warren has presented his breakthrough work before corporate and government audiences worldwide.

    He has won awards for his leading-edge research and teaching excellence in competitive and growth strategy dynamics, at the Strategy faculty of the London Business School, also available as part of a Masters degree programme, and as a Strategy Dynamics Course.
    At the International System Dynamics Conference, Professor Warren, was awarded the Jay W. Forrester Prize for his book “COMPETITIVE STRATEGY DYNAMICS.”

  • Testimonials

    Jim McDonnell, partner in PricewaterhouseCoopers strategy practice says … “the challenge our people face in working on strategy is the existence of too much data, but not enough insight….[They] use strategy dynamics to cut through the detail from the start of their work. As a result, they are able to raise questions and identify issues with much greater insight than they have previously been able to do”
    “I had the pleasure of learning Strategy Dynamics from Dr Warren several years ago and since that time, have applied the principles and practices in several business units both at Sun Microsystems and Microsoft. This approach to understanding strategic business issues and subsequently designing, comparing, and communicating alternatives and interventions has been invaluable.”

    John Kapson, Managing Consultant, Sun Microsystems

    “Strategy Dynamics is fundamental to the work we do at Vanguard to deliver powerful insights for leading global companies in the sectors we serve. The method allows us to identify high-value brand strategies – often radically different than is currently being pursued – that other consulting firms with conventional approaches simply cannot match, so we ensure all our people are thoroughly trained in the approach… This has earned us the right to advise leading global consumer companies on brand and marketing strategy.”

    Lars Finskud, CEO Vanguard Strategy, London

  • Chinese Culture University of Taiwan practice-and-research program on Enterprise Architecture (EA platform for planning enterprise-wide information systems strategies) and Dynamics

    Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) – Advanced Studies program in System Dynamics

    The Open Group whose standards and certification programs for Enterprise Architecture have been adopted worldwide.

    System Dynamics Society – International Society

    System Dynamics Society – UK Chapter

    System Dynamics Review the key journal on system dynamics – includes examples of strategy models


    • The DRBV framework builds on two fundamental and complementary models of the firm:

      • the feedback view from the field of system dynamics
      • the resource flow-based view from the field of strategy dynamics.

      The traditional resource-based view (RBV) sees organisations as a complex fusion of resources. In this context, superior performance and competitive advantage, are the result of unique configurations of resources that rivals find difficult to imitate; such as business acumen, strategic thinking, business intelligence capabilities, and agility.

      DRBV proposes that competitive advantage and superior performance, also depend on how resources change over time as a result of management policies and performance improvement initiatives.


  • Sysdea Model – Building an Engineering Business

    Marine Engineering Model TW-lecture : Shows the simple principles of Strategy Dynamics business models with a case example in the Marine Engineering sector – from the EA conference: Chinese Culture University, Taiwan.

    Sysdea Model – Building an Engineering Business

  • Dr. Ackoff received his Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania and his Doctorate in Philosophy of Science. He next went on to receive his Doctorate of Science from the University of Lancaster. Throughout the years, Ackoff has held positions at various universities and institutions. His illustrious academic career has played out primarily at Case Institute of Technology and The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. Such is the breadth and reach of his intellectual contribution that the Ackoff Center for Advanced Systems Approaches at the University of Pennsylvania was established as part of the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. His latest jobs are Chairman of Interact, the Institute for Interactive Management, and Professor Emeritus of the Wharton School.

    • Transformation and Redesign at the White House Communications Agency (WHCA)   by March Laree Jacques,   May 1999
      Ackoff consulted with WHCA on the transformation, originally published by the American Society for Quality in the Quality Management Journal, Volume 6, Issue 3, 1999.
    • Russell L. Ackoff – Systemic Approach to Innovation   by Robert J. Allio,   Sep 2003
      Interview of Russell Ackoff. Managers “tend to look for simple, if not simple-minded, solutions to problems. For this reason managers are susceptible to management gurus pitching panaceas.”
    • A Systemic View of Transformational Leadership   by Russell L. Ackoff,   Jul 1998
      “Therefore, a transformational leader is one who can produce, or encourage and facilitate the production of, a mobilising vision of a transformed system. Equally important, the leader must be able to inspire and organise or have organised an effective…”
    • Transforming The Systems Movement   by Russell L. Ackoff,   May 2004
      “Systems thinking produces radical and potentially revolutionary visions of public institutions. Nothing short of such visions can transform the state of world affairs. I believe we have an obligation to the global society of which we are a part to make…”