Studies have examined how managers use strategy tools, but we know much less about how managers create strategy tools de novo. We undertook an ethnographic study of a business facing a wicked problem and investigated the sociomaterial practice of collective toolmaking. We identify how strategy toolmaking oscillates between different problem domains and reveal how this manifests process affordances, which are ‘unintended’ by-products of the toolmaking process. Counterintuitively, by intentionally making a strategic tool, actors unintentionally create a sociomaterial springboard for 'spin-off strategizing' and ‘the discovery of latent ambiguities’, generating strategic value beyond the tool produced. These insights illuminate how the practice of collective toolmaking can stimulate wayfinding, indirectly helping managers to respond to wicked problems, characterized by high degrees of complexity, ambiguity, and indeterminacy.
Bibliographical note© 2020 The Authors. Journal of Management Studies published by Society for the Advancement of Management Studies and John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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- strategy process
- strategy toolmaking
- strategy tools
- strategy tools-in-use