Strategy basics – Mintzberg

Posted on: April 5, 2013

I’ve written a fair amount about strategy (see the links below) but I thought it might be worth going back to some basics. So here’s some strategy basics –Mintzberg (who I often talk about in training sessions in the context of emergent strategy). In 1987, he  provided five Ps for approaches to strategy:

  • Plan
    •  This takes the form of a list of priorities or actions for what you will do. A roadmap of future activities. But a plan isn’t necessarily a strategy.
  • Ploy
    •  These are actions that are dependent on what others do. For example, watching or influencing competitors and responding to changes in the environment.
  • Pattern
    •  Emergent strategies are discoveries of successful ways to conducting business. Incremental changes that become the normal way of doing things.
  • Position
    •  Finding a way to differentiate your business against competitors in a particular market following PESTLE or Porter’s Five Forces analyses.
  • Perspective
    •  Driven by the mission and values of a business and heavily influenced by its culture – adopting a particular view of what is happening and why.

In reality, a business will usually adopt a number of these approaches. Essentially, strategy is about formulating ideas and making decisions about what you want to achieve, analysing what is happening in the market and how you will respond by implementing change. It requires shared analysis, shared thinking and shared action.

In particularly turbulent times, like now, you might use scenario analyses to explore what actions you might take depending on how the environment and situation develops – a consideration of the best case and worse case scenarios http://kimtasso.com/book-review-chaotics-the-business-of-managing-and-marketing-in-the-age-of-turbulence 

A key element of your research might include a review of the far external environment – using SLEPT (Sociological, Legal, Economic, Political and Technology trends – sometimes described as PESTLE) and near environment competitor analysis. And you will probably use a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) analysis to summarise all your preliminary thinking, research and analysis to identify the key issue(s) on which to focus.

You will need to do a stakeholder analysis to check who has a vested interest in strategy and you can use POWER to make your strategy effective:

  • Personal, professional and past performance
  • Organisational and positional (e.g. Board level authority)
  • Web of contacts
  • Evidence, enthusiasm, passion and tenacity
  • Resources (finances, people and other)

And of course you will need to involve people and communicate it in an appropriate way if you are to ensure that the entire organisation plays it part in execution.

Recent strategy blogs:

http://kimtasso.com/competitive-strategy-for-business-growth-process-practice-and-performance

http://kimtasso.com/seven-deadly-sins-of-business-plans-and-how-to-fix-them

http://kimtasso.com/book-review-good-strategy-bad-strategy-the-difference-and-why-it-matters-by-richard-rumelt

http://kimtasso.com/strategy-and-scenario-planning-blowing-the-cobwebs-off-your-mind-workshop-with-allen-overy

http://kimtasso.com/mckinseys-managing-the-strategy-journey-says-spend-more-time-on-strategy

and there is a list below that is continually updated

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