The strategic management discipline relies on different definitions of strategy for researchers and practitioners. Henry Mintzberg, an expert in the management discipline, developed five different meanings of strategy (5Ps) to help others in the application of strategy. According to Mintzberg, the different approaches to defining strategy are:
Strategy as a plan
Strategy can be described as a plan—A course of action that is meticulously intended to deal with a specific situation. Going by this definition, strategy essentially has two characteristics: it is developed in advance of the action to which it applies, and it is developed purposefully and consciously.
Strategy as a pattern
Mintzberg presented the definition of strategy as a carefully intended course of action whose resulting behaviour can be identified. Hence, strategy is a pattern—particularly, a pattern within a series of actions. A corporate strategy, for example, may mean a pattern of actions that an organization undertakes for it to realise its goals.
Strategy as a position
The term strategy being the position of an organisation means placing the organisation in the environment that best describes its goals and objectives. This therefore creates a mediating force between the organisation and the environment. The environment in this case, represents the internal and external views. A position can imply offering differentiated products, a niche, or employing unique competencies in the market to gain competitive advantage.
Strategy as a ploy
According to Mintzberg, an organisation gaining competitive advantage by plotting to discourage, disrupt, influence, or even deter a rivalling organisation can be termed as a strategy. In this case, a strategy becomes a ploy whereby it is a manoeuvre taken to get the better of a competitor.
Strategy as a perspective
Strategy as a perspective is a look inside the organisation, and indeed is how the collective strategist portrays an organisation’s entrenched way of perceiving the world. For instance, some organisations are aggressive trendsetters, developing new markets and building new technologies; others perceive the universe as stable and set, and therefore become comfortable in their established markets, constructing protective ammunitions around themselves.
Understanding and implementing each element of strategy can help an organisation develop a practical and robust business strategy.
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