Mintzberg’s 5 Ps of Strategy

In order to help us understand the concept of strategy in its entirety, Henry Mintzberg published an article entitled “The Strategy Concept 1: Five Ps For Strategy” (California Management Review, Vol. 30, No. 1, Fall 1987), where he distinguished five visions of strategy: plan, ploy, pattern, position, and perspective, as illustrated in Figure 1.

A clear understanding of these five visions allows a company to implement its strategy more effectively.

Strategy can be perceived of as a plan, a set of lines of action designed to deal with a specific situation, enabling managers to explain to their teams what they want to achieve and the results they expect.

Strategy can also be seen as a ploy to deceive a competitor about the direction the company will take. In this way, companies can surprise the market by implementing an unexpected plan.

It can also be perceived of as a pattern of performance, enabling the achievement of goals. If certain decisions made in the past were efficacious, a company may want to make these same decisions again in the future.

Strategy as position leads us to a way of inserting the company into the market. It is important to consider in advance how the company wants to position itself vis-a-vis the broader environment.

Finally, strategy as perspective denotes a particular way of perceiving the world. It is important to identify how different stakeholders perceive the company.

Just as 5 Ps are part of a company’s strategy, it is also convenient to look at each one as a discrete point of view that needs to be considered for developing a robust strategy likely to succeed.

It is helpful to employ the 5 Ps throughout the planning process. They provide necessary and relevant information in the early stages of strategy development, can assist in validation, evaluation and adjustment, and can be used at the end of the planning process as a final test to discover inconsistencies in the strategy. Identifying problems in the planning stage can save a company and prevent resource waste.

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