This paper aims to show empirically that strategic plans may contribute to the emergence of new strategies, and not just to programming of predefined strategies. It does so thanks to a novel approach to planning, in which the analyst opens strategic plans, reads their contents, and studies how business actors use them. This method is applied to the analysis of Renault’s investment strategy in Brazil in the mid-1990s. The author demonstrates that, although the planning process may have acted during this investment as a constraint on innovative strategising, the plans that were produced in order to prepare the investment were open, creative documents. Thanks to their visual and textual representation of contexts and strategies, these plans enhanced strategic imagination more than they hindered the conception of new strategies. The paper argues that all plans may play such a role, depending on how they are written and read. It concludes with recommendations on how to best read and write plans
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