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Mining Strategies in ‘The Twilight Zone’

- By: John P Sykes
Posted in: Blog, Management, Media, Mining, Strategy


Earlier in the year, we published a pair of Strictly Boardroom articles on looking at the flaws of typical ‘rationalist’ strategic planning and then some alternatives to this way of doing strategy. Rationalist strategy is that developed by the likes of Frederick W. Taylor, Peter Drucker, Michael Porter, microeconomists, game theorists and the likes of McKinsey & Company and the Boston Consulting Group (BCG). Much of this work was done prior to the 1980s. There are several assumptions underlying the rationalist strategic approach which do not apply in some strategic situations, not least that:

  • People are autonomous rational agents;
  • Idiosyncratic externalities are not important;
  • The future is predictable;
  • The company can exert influence beyond its boundaries;
  • Control comes from the top;
  • Business exists as a series of value chains in clearly defined sectors.

There are many alternative models to strategising that do not follow one or more of these assumptions with interesting and sometimes enlightening results. Often these are not just different ‘tools’ or ‘frameworks’ but completely different ways of percieving the world. These alternatives include approaches such as deconstructive strategy, deliberately unintended strategy, strategies of ‘irrational’ people, the strategies of complexity, systems, networks, and ecologies, and strategy utilising foresight but not forecasting. These areas are often nowadays at the forefront of strategic thinking.

The articles are entitled “Mining strategies in ‘The Twilight Zone’: Episode 1” and “Episode 2” and are still available on for subscribers, or contact me.

For keen followers of the Strictly Boardroom column, our book “Strictly (Mining) Boardroom Volume II: A Practitioners Guide for Next Generation Directors” was published last year and is available as a paperback or e-book from Major Street Publishing or Amazon. We’re pleased to say that the book received a very positive review in the AusIMM Bulletin and in Geoscientist magazine – the members publication of the Geological Society of London.