Corporate organizations have been developing strategies that guide their operations or make an entry into a particular market. The formation of a strategy is a paradox that involves deliberate and emergent issues in the market. In the article “Perspective on Strategy: The Real Story Behind Honda’s Success”, there is a clear difference in the way in which both Americans and Japanese view Honda’s success. While Americans view the success of Honda, especially the company’s onslaught into the American market in the 1960s, as a process of conception or rather an intended process, the Japanese executives’ views are that their strategy is an emergent process (Pascale, 1984, p. 48). The view of strategy as an emergent process is that which is not planned but nevertheless realized, adopted and executed. While the American analysts and academics saw a planned logical thinking, the Honda executives did exactly the opposite; allowing corporate democracy of creative thinking to reign on their business strategies.
In the Japanese approach, it is logical to state that Honda executives adopted creative thinking as they implemented the emergent strategies for the company, both locally and internationally. Strategy as an emergent process is based on what some scholars would call invalid thoughts, with no apparent rules governing the process other than the prevailing market situation. According to Wit & Meyer (2010, p. 41), this pattern of developing a strategy is called ‘lateral thinking’; it gives the executives the freedom to decide the direction of a business depending on the prevailing market situations. In the view of the Honda story, it can safely be concluded that the executives abandoned the rules that governed the markets, and took the liberty to ensure every new idea led to another, without formal interference from the logical thinking that may have been present at the start.
The management at Honda openly adopted a chaotic work environment which is believed to have been instrumental in driving the company to the top within the shortest period no other company could have imagined. Knights & Willmott (2012, p. 2) observe that while some companies such as Harley-Davidson insisted on Strategy formation as a process of conception, Honda approached their business in a chaotic market structure, providing the fragmented market structure with what they wanted. Strategy as an emergent process also depicts how Google is run, which Larry Page describes as “moving too quickly and doing too much, not being too cautious and doing too little” (Strategic Direction, 2007). It is, thus possible to state that a lack of a chaotic and mistake-prone environment is an indication that the company is not taking enough risks, and may not be able to compete creatively. This theory of management strategy is what was used by the management of Honda to give freedom of thinking and creativity to the employees and other line executives. This has led to the adoption of a working style mostly characterized by fluidity, risk-taking, and casual approach to one’s responsibilities (Strategic Direction, 2007, p. 26).
The emergent process strategy creates an environment where the employees and junior managers inherently become aware of their responsibility to be ambitious, self-motivated, and control themselves while at their place of work. In such work environment, the workers at Honda had the opportunity to put their skills and knowledge to the development of the company through creative manufacturing and marketing. Such work environments embody everyone at the company as part of the elite group of free thinking and implementation of emergent issues. This is in contrast to what many of the American executives and academics had seen in Honda’s success story.