I’ve just started the final course for my MSc (‘Digital Education Strategy and Policy’). Week 1 has thrown up many interesting questions, including this one: what exactly do we mean by strategy, particularly in the context of digital education?
One of the main tensions in strategy seems to be between a classical definition (where strategists think they can control outcomes through reason and analysis) and ecological approaches, where ‘strategists [are] virtually powerless in the face of uncontrollable, and in many ways unknowable, forces’ (Jones 1998, p. 494).
There are plenty of examples of organisations suffering due to a failure to adapt their strategy to the demands of digital (e.g. in publishing or music).
Are ‘born digital’ sectors – e.g. software development, digital marketing – any more successful at adapting to a constantly changing environment? And can organisations still take an evolutionary approach when they have profit-hungry shareholders demanding evidence of a more conventional strategy (e.g. Facebook)?
I started out thinking that a rational, analytical strategy was as desirable as a roadmap, even in a sometimes messy and fuzzy place like digital education. But now I’m not so sure…
Jones G. (2004) ‘Perspectives on strategy’, in Segal-Horn S. (ed.), The Strategy Reader. Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 491–508.