The Dynamism of Emergent and Deliberate Strategies

Sep 14, 2023

Achieving Balance for Organizational Success

As l reflect on my professional journey, l recall different periods where the brands l worked for had different approaches to stimulating revenue growth. I am amazed at how the acceleration of innovation became common across all industries.  This reality means that brands must think more critically about managing through the changing market dynamics. The reason is that creating a path to success demands a strategic approach that embraces flexibility and planning in ever-evolving industries. 

This week's blog post will explore the balance between emergent and deliberate strategies, explaining their merits and interdependent relationship in guiding an organization toward its goals and assisting it in navigating change while delivering sustainable success. 

Emergent Strategy: The Art of Adaptation

An Emergent strategy is often described as a flexible, adaptive approach to decision-making. It evolves organically as an organization responds to external changes, market dynamics, and unforeseen challenges. Organizations at the start-up phase of development usually adopt it. Here are some key benefits of an emergent strategy:

Agility: Emergent strategies allow organizations to adapt to unpredictable circumstances. When market conditions change, emergent strategies enable quick responses, helping the company stay competitive.

Innovation: They foster an environment where innovation thrives. Teams can experiment and explore new ideas without tight constraints, leading to breakthrough solutions.

Learning Culture: Emergent strategies encourage a continuous learning culture. Teams learn from their actions and adjust their approaches based on real-world feedback. 

Deliberate Strategy: Planning as a Way to Growth

A Deliberate strategy, on the other hand, emphasizes careful planning and structured decision-making. It's about setting clear objectives, designing detailed action plans, and working methodically toward long-term goals. Usually adopted by organizations in mature markets and the growth phase of development. Here are some key benefits:

Focus: Deliberate strategies provide a clear focus for the organization. They define specific goals and allocate resources accordingly, reducing the risk of drifting off course.

Accountability: With well-defined plans and responsibilities, deliberate strategies enhance accountability within the organization. Team members understand their roles and how they contribute to the overall strategy.

Risk Management: Deliberate strategies incorporate risk assessments and mitigation plans. This approach helps organizations anticipate potential challenges and develop contingency measures.

Orchestration of Emergent and Deliberate Strategies

Achieving a balance between emergent and deliberate strategies is crucial for long-term success. Here's how these two approaches can complement each other:

Strategic Flexibility: Deliberate strategies provide a framework for decision-making, while emergent strategies allow for adaptability within that framework. Organizations can stay agile by regularly reviewing and adjusting the deliberate strategy based on emerging insights.

Continuous Feedback: Establish feedback loops between the two strategies. Insights from emergent strategies can inform refinements in deliberate strategies, ensuring alignment with changing market dynamics.

Experimentation within Structure: Encourage controlled experimentation within the framework of deliberate strategies. This technique enables teams to innovate while still working toward predefined objectives.

Scenario Planning: Deliberate strategies can include scenario planning, preparing for potential emergent scenarios. This proactive approach helps organizations respond effectively to unexpected events.

Cultural Alignment: Foster a culture that values emergent and deliberate thinking. Ensure that all team members understand the importance of each approach and when to apply them.

Complementary Strategies

In addition to the delicate interplay between emergent and deliberate strategies, organizations can benefit from complementary strategies, such as:

1.  Service-Dominant Logic (S-D Logic): is a contemporary marketing and economic theory that offers a fundamental shift in perspective from the traditional, goods-dominant view of exchange to one focused on services and the cocreation of value.

2. Blue Ocean Strategy: This approach focuses on creating uncontested market spaces, allowing organizations to innovate and differentiate themselves from competitors.

3. Open Innovation: Open innovation involves collaborating with external partners, such as startups, universities, or research institutions, to access new ideas, technologies, and expertise. This strategy can accelerate innovation and product development.

4. Ecosystem and Platform Strategy: Organizations can explore ecosystem and platform strategies to create or participate in industry ecosystems or platforms. These strategies aim to facilitate collaboration, create value, and expand reach within an industry.


The dynamic balance between emergent and deliberate strategies and integrating complementary approaches is the hallmark of strategic excellence. Organizations that create a balance between the two can confidently navigate the complex business landscape, staying agile and focused on their short and long-term objectives. This strategic harmony is the key to sustained success in today's world of constant change.