How do large multi-unit firms in a deconstructing world reconcile the conflicting forces of profits for today and flexibility to adapt for tomorrow? Profits for today requires order, control, and stability: adaptation for tomorrow requires flexibility and creativity in the value-added system. Large firms in many industries are confronted with this challenge of exploration and exploitation. In the European financial services industries these conflicting tendencies are increasingly obvious. Existing large financial players seem well placed to exploit the present but ill suited to adapt to the future. Why is this so, and what can be done about it? We consider the mechanisms of selection, adaptation and co-evolution that take place between levels within the firm and between the firm and its environment, and from this identify four ideal kinds of strategic renewal journeys that organizations can adopt as a way of coping with increasing environmental pressures. We label these journeys: emergent, directed, facilitated, and transformational. We show how these ideal types represent different options for top, middle and front-line managers, and we identify how each type differs in its capacity to cope with the changing environment. We illustrate our renewal journeys with examples from Dutch (ING and Rabobank) and British financials (Barclays, Lloyds and Prudential) and other organizations such as GE, IBM, Intel, Novotel and Philips. We suggest that for mobilising renewal in well-established financial institutions—once protected but now exposed to the winds of change—managers have to recognise that many of the current journeys are unsuitable for the future.

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Journal Long Range Planning
Volberda, H.W. (2017). Comments on 'Mastering strategic renewal: Mobilising renewal journeys in multi-unit firms'. Long Range Planning, 50(1), 44–47. doi:10.1016/j.lrp.2016.12.002