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Books: Effective Planning Amid Chaos

By Paul L. Shillam, CMA, CPA, CGMA
September 1, 2021

Data analytics, AI, automation, the cloud, and faster processors frame decision makers’ understanding of the world in which we operate. The accumulation of data can be overwhelming.

 

 

In Everyday Chaos: Technology, Complexity, and How We’re Thriving in a New World of Possibility, David Weinberger challenges readers to reflect on current assumptions and models that have served us well but may now be outdated.

 

This book made me reconsider the constructs that forecasters use to predict future trends and events. Before Weinberger approaches the topic of planning models, he explains “how we think things happen,” bursting the conventional wisdom that laws are always the most useful way to address the world’s complexities, that we can understand how things happen, that we can make anything happen by pulling the right levers, and that change is always proportional to effect. Those insights are effective prompts for finance professionals to reevaluate their organization’s strategic-planning process.

 

Rather than looking at ways of simplifying our vision of the world, the book discusses the impacts of technology that enable professionals to look more broadly at the interrelationships of events. Data analytics, AI, and deep learning provide the ability to challenge conventional wisdom by factoring in the complexities that are influencing finance leaders’ day-to-day decision making.

 

In the chapter “Strategy and Possibility,” Weinberger offers several enlightening examples of how organizations are looking at their strategy in a different light after reexamining traditional methods of strategic planning. In his discussion of Rita McGrath’s transient competitive advantage, he states, “The possibilities that open up arise from the interactions of everything, which is to say, the interoperability of all.” Organizations need to pull relevant points of data from the chaotic world in which we operate.

 

This thought-provoking, challenging book leads readers to reconsider the premises of our strategic planning models and opens new pathways for finance professionals to make plans. Interrelationships and interoperability of all things can now be considered using new technologies. It’s incumbent on finance professionals to learn to operate in the current chaotic state of constantly evolving technology.

 

Paul L. Shillam, CMA, CPA, CGMA, is the founder of Shillam Consulting, an independent consultancy, and an IMA member. You can reach him at pshillam@linfield.edu.
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