Tripping and Falling into the Future: An Eolithic Perspective
Keywords:creativity, design mentality, eolithic mentality, innovation, opportunism, strategic planning
AbstractEXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Thirty years ago, Dustin and McAvoy (1984) published an essay in Environmental Ethics titled “Toward Environmental Eolithism.” The article compared and contrasted two distinct orientations to environmental planning and management: the design mentality and the eolithic mentality. The authors concluded that the more popular design mentality lacked sufficient flexibility and adaptability to maximize performance, and that the more obscure eolithic mentality was a superior orientation to environmental planning and management. In this article we extend the logic of that Environmental Ethics essay to criticize a popular offshoot of the design mentality–strategic planning–as it is commonly conducted in the park and recreation administration, and then discuss how an eolithic perspective might complement the strategic planning process. We begin by describing the similarities between strategic planning and the design mentality as well as the shortcomings of strategic planning in a rapidly changing world. We then consider the eolithic mentality’s yin to strategic planning’s yang. We stress the futility of planning for a future that cannot be predicted, and, consequently, how important it is for park and administrators to keep an open mind, be opportunistic, and take risks in a work world characterized by serendipity–the discover of valuable but unforeseen opportunities that strategic planning, by its very nature, cannot anticipate. Finally, we conclude the article by discussing the management implications of both the design and eolithic orientations to park and recreation administration. We anchor our thinking in the management writings of Drucker (2001), Mintzberg's critique of strategic planning (1994), the systems thinking of Meadows (2008) and Ackoff (1983, 1979), and the contributions of other forward-looking theorists renowned for their entrepreneurial spirit and proclivity for proactive leadership.
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