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What is Mintzberg’s 5 Ps of Strategy?
Mintzberg developed his 5 Ps of Strategy – five different definitions of (or approaches to) developing strategy. He first wrote about the 5 Ps of Strategy in 1987. Each of the 5 Ps is a different approach to strategy. They are:
- Plan – the default, automatic approach that we adopt – brainstorming options and planning how to deliver them.
- Ploy – Mintzberg says that getting the better of competitors, by plotting to disrupt, dissuade, discourage, or otherwise influence them, can be part of a strategy. This is where strategy can be a ploy, as well as a plan. Here, techniques and tools such as the Futures Wheel, Impact Analysis, and Scenario Analysis can help you explore the possible future scenarios in which competition will occur. Our article on Game Theory then gives you powerful tools for mapping out how the competitive “game” is likely to unfold, so that you can set yourself up to win it.
- Pattern – Strategic plans and ploys are both deliberate exercises. Sometimes, however, strategy emerges from past organizational behavior. Rather than being an intentional choice, a consistent and successful way of doing business can develop into a strategy.
- Position – “Position” is another way to define strategy – that is, how you decide to position yourself in the marketplace. In this way, strategy helps you explore the fit between your organization and your environment, and it helps you develop a sustainable competitive advantage .
- Perspective – The choices an organization makes about its strategy rely heavily on its culture – just as patterns of behavior can emerge as strategy, patterns of thinking will shape an organization’s perspective and the things that it is able to do well. To get an insight into your organization’s perspective, use cultural analysis tools like the Cultural Web , Deal and Kennedy’s Cultural Model , and the Congruence Model .
Instead of trying to use the 5 Ps as a process to follow while developing strategy, think of them as a variety of viewpoints that you should consider while developing a robust and successful strategy.
Use the 5 Ps
- When you’re gathering information and conducting the analysis needed for strategy development, as a way of ensuring that you’ve considered everything relevant.
- When you’ve come up with initial ideas, as a way of testing that they’re realistic, practical, and robust.
- As a final check on the strategy that you’ve developed, to flush out inconsistencies and things that may not have been fully considered.