The evolution of cities is the largely unplanned and unintended outcome of more or less deliberate actions by many individuals and dispersed agencies searching to find a way out of the problems and circumstances they experience. As such, urban evolution is consciously man-made and even policy-made in many respects, but it does not unfold harmoniously according to the lines of a strategic plan. There is no complete control, not even in countries where powers are shaped to enable hierarchical planning. On the other hand, collectivities feel the need for ‘strategic devices’ to guide action. Such strategic devices are frequently invented and promoted not just by single planning agencies, but by all sorts of coalitions of stakeholders and shareholders both in the public sector and/or the private sector. Strategic devices (collective missions, visions, plans etc.) attempt to settle or to stimulate certain joint courses in individual actions. The strategic devices may contain compulsory or contractual conditions, but sometimes they are just indicative, and not necessarily legally binding. The strategic dimension lies in the transcendence of individual horizons in scope and time – i.e. in exceeding the reach of single actors, single-purpose behaviours, and the space-time span of daily activities and routines – and in the selection of symbols that enable the reproduction of a joint direction for a possible future of cities that directly and indirectly might be shared by an unspecified number of individual agents. Obviously, the possible impact of strategic devices is extremely sensitive to the different ways in which the conditions for action are framed in the multifarious context of individuals and agencies.