A Cognitive Playbook: Frames for Smart Thinking

Course Number
DYNM 6420 001
Course Code
Course Key
Primary Program
Course Note
DYNM Category: DE, A. DYNM Concentration: LMC
Course Description
Strategy and organization are of a piece. Bain & Company's Chris Zook put the matter ironically: "I don't know whether organization is the new strategy, or strategy is the new organization, but it's something like that." Too often, however, these realms are treated as discrete. This course not only integrates strategy and organization; it adds metacognition (thinking about thinking) to the mix. A Cognitive Playbook enables students to understand the three perspectives--strategy creation, organizational design, and critical thinking--in light of each other. Students gain both big-picture scope and nitty-gritty tools for organizational analysis, planning and change. They also learn how to speed-read the literature on strategy, organization, leadership, management, and the like--because so much of it is derivative and redundant. Old wine in new bottles. This course is highly graphic. At its core are six "cognitive plays," or geometries of thinking: point, linear, curvilinear, angular, triangular, and cubic. Each play has its time and place. The challenge is to mix and match appropriately. Playbook shows how. The course is grounded in my two most recent books, The Geometry of Strategy and Seeing Organizational Patterns, and incorporates material from a book about metacognition that I am writing. Throughout the semester, students will assemble cognitive playbooks (personal journals of thinking sytles based on their work, educational, and other life experience/observations). They also will create narratives (analysis of past and present, plan for the future) about their current or most recent organization, using the strategic scaffolding framework presented in Geometry. Prerequisite: Course permits for non-DYNM students: https://www.sas.upenn.edu/lps/graduate/dynamics/course-permit
Subject Area Vocab