Brief evolution of the search conference method of strategic planning
- 1960 -- Fred Emery and Eric Trist created the first
participative strategic planning method and field tested it in 1960 with
the Bristol Siddeley Aircraft Engine Company in Great Britain. They called
the method and process searching, or the search conference.
- 1965 -- Emery and Trist publish a ground breaking causal
texture article in Human Relations. Their message: The environment is an
entity that changes its nature over time. A change in the environment affects
the systems within it in ways different from that of the previous environment:
- Bureaucratic organizations were introduced to produce
a competitive advantage in a stable competitive environment whose reign
is ending. These bureaucratic structures were successful and viable for
a time, however they did not meet people’s critical requirements for
work. The result was that people felt alienated and unsatisfied at work.
- We are in a turbulent and uncertain environment where
the bureaucratic, hierarchical structures and principles are more and more
out of place and dysfunctional.
- In an uncertain environment you need flexible, adaptive
behavior and the capacity for the continuous redesign of work and adjustment
to strategic plans.
- 1970s --Fred and Merrelyn Emery elaborated upon open
systems theory to strengthen the method. They conducted 300 search conferences
during the 1970s in Australia. It was during this intense research and application
period that the method was further developed with its strong theoretical
base. Evolution of the method continues today through the interplay between
theoretical understanding and application.
- 1980s -- During the early 80s the search was brought
to Canada, and in 1982, the Emerys brought it to the US.
- 1993 -- Fred and Merrelyn Emery began sharing their
approach with practitioners at a series of seminars and conducted a search
on the future of participative democracy in US, Canadian and Mexican workplaces.
me back to the article, Ned