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Preparing for the Future: strategic planning in the US Air Force

Michael Barzelay, Colin Campbell
Brookings Institution Press (1 October 2003)

While the Clinton administration and federal agencies were busy making government cost less and work better in the near-term, the US Air Force was regularly visualizing the competencies needed to assure the organization's long-term effectiveness. As a result of steady efforts to prepare for future secretaries and chief's of staff, the Air Force has developed a distinctive approach to strategic planning. This approach is fundamentally concerned with ensuring that the organization's future capabilities support effective performance of future tasks. Such tasks are shaped by ever-changing policy objectives and circumstances of implementation. After eight years, the Air Force has not only successfully refined its distinctive approach to strategic planning, but has also leveraged change in programmatic decisions, human resource management and operational technologies. 

This study offers an inside look at how the Air Force came to formulate and declare its 'strategic intent' for developing the organization's capabilities. Michael Barzelay and Colin Campbell reveal how one of the US's most significant public organizations reassesses its own strategic intent. Drawing lessons from the Air Force experience, this book provides a contribution to public management research on innovation and executive leadership. One key lesson is that preparing for the future is a responsibility that organizations can discharge effectively if they combine insights with practical knowledge of executive leadership and the dynamics of policy change. The book aims to offer fresh argument about innovation and leadership in public management, breaking new ground in the analysis of managerial practices, such as strategic visioning.

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For more information, contact Jessica Winterstein, LSE Press Office, on 020 7955 7060 or email j.winterstein@lse.ac.uk|

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