The Emergent Approach to Strategy

Adaptive design and execution for change and innovation


The Emergent Approach is a new theory and practice of strategy built on an adaptive view of change and innovation in contrast to “planning” the future.

Why is a new book on strategy needed? And other FAQs…

“For too long, we have been observing organizations with great strategic plans that forget to “implement” strategy. As a result, they over plan and under deliver. Worse, they often don’t see the bottlenecks—the slow-go points—impeding their progress. Compo shows how to use bottlenecks as a focal point where tension can be used creatively in his open and contingent approach to strategy design.”

Shaun Coffey, Director for Capacity Building, The Crawford Fund for a Food Secure World

Peter takes a complex topic and brings structure, clarity and practical questions to ask when developing or recasting strategic direction. Most of us have corporate experiences where this process ended up messy…

Jim Beach’s School for Startups Radio podcast, Episode June 8, 2022

We discuss why a strategy is a central rule and not just a long-term plan, how the emergent approach resonates with Jim’s many entrepreneurial experiences, and how to get started with the Emergent Approach to Strategy.

Compo has provided a path to move beyond the typical annual strategic plan that never gets adopted. With an approach that drives clarity in intent with adaptability to changing conditions and opportunities, Compo shows how to unlock the creativity and ability of the people who will turn your strategy into reality and results.

Michael Effron, Chairman, Oliver Wight

As Peter Compo explains in this book, “Strategy testing is a time-honored practice. Well-known tests include those offered by Michael Porter and McKinsey consulting. Most traditional tests, however, are not actually tests of strategy; they are tests of entire frameworks and can be of limited use when they require a lot of prediction.”…

Compared to any other book I know of, the Emergent Approach provides better ways of thinking about improving strategy professional practice.

Mark Anderson, Strategy Consultant

Peter Compo’s The Emergent Approach to Strategy is a wonderful rethinking of the language and logic of business strategy. Be prepared to learn how to identify “killer problems” and critical “bottlenecks” as well as how to see the “disqualifiers” implicit in too many statements of strategy. This is a necessary addition to a strategist’s bookshelf.

Richard Rumelt, author of Good Strategy/Bad Strategy and The Crux

Compo employs diagrams, charts, references, and hard-hitting, exact definitions that identify the core reasons why strategic theory often fails in business applications.

See the review here.

D. Donovan, Sr. Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

Simply put, Peter Compo’s book finally makes sense of strategy. I first encountered Pete as his new research manager, a year or so after he had joined DuPont. Having come from leading a successful effort heavily dependent on strategy and an assignment leading corporate support for innovation, I felt comfortable with strategy, but always found myself twisting and turning the chosen frameworks to fit…

From analytical metrics to conflicting truths that are half-successful under different circumstances but not fully effective, Compo does an exceptional job of drawing together math, philosophy, business theory, and real-world scenarios in a way business leaders can readily understand.

See the review here.

D. Donovan, Sr. Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

This book is a game changer for me. The word ‘strategic’ was attached to so many of my Agile projects in the corporate world, yet few were born out of any kind of strategy that offered realtime guidance on tradeoffs to help us make decisions or course correct through our planning increments. Sometimes the best I could do with what I was given was to shut down the initiative before it wasted any more of the organization’s resources…


  • Chapter supplements: appendixes, additional examples

  • 5 Task Sets: a guidebook for implementation of the approach

  • Templates: for use in strategy materials

  • The Five Disqualifiers: added examples



Strategy-testing is a time-honored practice, and some traditional tests of strategy are well known, for instance, those offered by Michael Porter and McKinsey consulting. Traditional tests, however, are not usually tests of strategy; they are tests of entire frameworks that contain in addition to the strategy, also goals, plans, tactics, scenarios, metrics, and other diagnosis of the internal and external world you will operate in. The Five Disqualifiers are a new set of strategy tests. SEE THE DISQUALIFIERS >

About the author

Peter Compo is a corporate business veteran, scientist, and musician who spent twenty-five years at E. I. DuPont in diverse leadership positions, including director of corporate integrated business planning. READ MORE >

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