Mintzberg’s 5Ps of Strategy In A Nutshell

Mintzberg’s 5Ps of Strategy is a strategy development model that examines five different perspectives (plan, ploy, pattern, position, perspective) to develop a successful business strategy. A sixth perspective has been developed over the years, called Practice, which was created to help businesses execute their strategies.

Mintzberg’s 5Ps of StrategyHenry Mintzberg, a renowned management theorist, proposed the 5Ps of Strategy as an alternative approach to understanding and formulating strategies. This framework challenges the traditional, linear approach to strategic planning and emphasizes a more holistic view of strategy development.
5Ps FrameworkThe 5Ps of Strategy consist of five components:
1. Plan: This is the traditional aspect of strategy involving deliberate planning, goal setting, and structured decision-making. It represents the intended strategy.
2. Ploy: Ploy refers to specific tactics, maneuvers, or actions designed to gain a competitive advantage. It is often reactive and may involve deception or surprise.
3. Pattern: Patterns emerge from a company’s actions over time. These are realized strategies that may differ from the intended plan and represent what the organization actually does.
4. Position: Positioning involves how an organization places itself in the market relative to competitors, customers, and other stakeholders. It’s about finding a unique and sustainable market niche.
5. Perspective: Perspective relates to the shared values, culture, and beliefs within an organization. It influences how decisions are made and strategies are implemented.
Strategy as a MixMintzberg’s approach suggests that strategy is a mix of these 5Ps, rather than being solely a deliberate plan. Organizations often adapt and change strategies based on the interplay of these elements.
Combination and DynamicsEffective strategies are often the result of combining elements from the 5Ps. Strategies evolve and develop over time as organizations respond to changing circumstances and learn from their experiences.
Realism and ComplexityThe 5Ps recognize the complexity and unpredictability of the business environment. They encourage organizations to be more realistic about their strategies and acknowledge that patterns and positions may emerge organically rather than being entirely planned.
Strategic AnalysisThe 5Ps framework encourages strategic analysis that considers not only deliberate plans (Plan) but also competitive tactics (Ploy), historical behavior (Pattern), market positioning (Position), and organizational culture (Perspective).
Adaptability and AgilityMintzberg’s model promotes adaptability and agility in response to changing conditions. By recognizing the importance of patterns and positioning, organizations can make more informed decisions and adjust their strategies as needed.
Critiques and LimitationsCritics argue that the 5Ps framework can be challenging to apply in practice because it is less prescriptive than traditional strategic planning models. Some organizations may find it difficult to strike the right balance between the five components.
Holistic PerspectiveThe 5Ps of Strategy provide a holistic perspective on strategy development, acknowledging that effective strategies emerge from a combination of planned and emergent elements. This approach can help organizations navigate complexity and uncertainty more effectively.
ApplicationsMintzberg’s framework is used by organizations to foster a more comprehensive understanding of their strategies and to facilitate strategic discussions that encompass a broader range of factors. It encourages a deeper examination of how strategy is developed and executed.

Understanding Mintzberg’s 5Ps of Strategy

Mintzberg’s 5Ps of Strategy was created by Canadian management scientist Henry Mintzberg. 

He recognized that in dynamic business environments, a simplistic approach to strategy development was unlikely to deliver success. The strategy may be reasonably effective one day and then useless the next.

To ensure that a strategy is adaptable and has longevity, it must be multidimensional and consider many perspectives.

The five perspectives of Mintzberg’s strategy

Following is a look at each of the five perspectives that Mintzberg identified as being crucial to success:

  1. Plan – what course of action will the business take to realize its future goals? Businesses should hold brainstorming sessions to identify goals and determine how they might be achieved. A plan can then be created by using a SWOT or PESTLE analysis. A sound strategic plan is essential because it is the foundation of the four subsequent perspectives.
  2. Ploy – Mintzberg argues that the strategy should discourage, divert, or influence competitors. For example, a tech company might patent certain inventions to discourage competitor products from entering the market. A business must use strategic ploys to stay one step ahead of the competition. But they should not become so focused on competitors that they lose sight of their own strategy.
  3. Pattern – the previous two perspectives encourage businesses to look forward. However, recognizing a pattern is about looking to the past and determining what has worked well. A restaurant that is known for its specialty seafood should not try to develop a competitive advantage elsewhere. Rather, it should double down on what it does best. It is also important to note that while plans are intended strategy, patterns are realized strategy and may be unintentional. In some cases, a business will need to seek out emerging patterns in its operations and then develop a strategy for each.
  4. Position – how does the business want to portray itself in the market? What target audience or niche should it occupy to gain a competitive advantage? What is the USP and how does it relate to brand strength? Porter’s Diamond and Porter’s Five Forces are useful market force analyses.
  5. Perspective – how does the business perceive the world? What is the “personality” of the business? Perspective should be shared by all members of the organization who are united in common thinking and behavior. For this reason, many equate perspective with culture. For example, a company that has a culture of risk-taking and innovation should base its strategy on highly innovative products and services.

The sixth perspective of Mintzberg’s strategy

While the five perspectives of Mintzberg’s strategy create a multidimensional strategy, some argue that they are too descriptive. That is, they do not offer guidance on how these perspectives might be implemented.

In response, a sixth perspective called Practice was created to help businesses execute their strategies. This can be achieved in several ways:

  • Embodying the strategy, or the physical performance of actions that help the business grow. Streaming services such as Netflix and Prime Video embodied their original content strategies by purchasing studios to create new television shows.
  • Sensing the strategy through one of the five senses. When Coca-Cola released its Coke Zero Sugar beverage to market, the consumer backlash to the awful taste was immense. It is difficult to imagine that Coca-Cola tasted the drink (or its strategy) before release.
  • Keeping the strategy in the present. Many strategies suffer when leaders look too far into the past or conversely, too far into the future. Intel’s strategy of developing future technology led to the company neglecting the present issue of product security. Sony’s focus on past consistency has resulted in repeated mistakes in the Spiderman franchises and in three generations of PlayStation. In both examples, the strategy was based on the intangibility of the past and future. Strategies that are instead based on the reality of the present save businesses from becoming distracted.

Case Studies

Agile Project Management:

  • Plan: Agile teams plan short-term goals (sprints) based on customer requirements and business priorities. This perspective ensures that the project is aligned with current objectives.
  • Pattern: Agile retrospectives analyze past sprints to identify successful practices and areas for improvement. This perspective helps teams learn from their experiences and continuously adapt.
  • Position: Agile teams position their product within the market by considering user feedback and iterating on features. This perspective ensures that the product remains competitive.
  • Ploy: Agile teams may employ strategic feature releases to respond to changing market conditions or outmaneuver competitors. This perspective allows for agility in strategy execution.
  • Perspective: Agile principles foster a collaborative and adaptive culture, aligning team members with a shared perspective on customer value and responsiveness.

Cybersecurity Strategy:

  • Plan: Creating a comprehensive cybersecurity plan involves identifying potential threats, assessing vulnerabilities, and planning security measures. This perspective ensures proactive protection.
  • Pattern: Analyzing historical attack patterns helps organizations anticipate and defend against similar attacks. This perspective enables informed decision-making based on past experiences.
  • Position: Assessing the organization’s security posture relative to industry standards and competitors ensures compliance and competitive positioning. This perspective supports risk management.
  • Ploy: Using deceptive practices like honeypots can divert attackers and protect critical assets. This perspective adds a layer of strategy to security defenses.
  • Perspective: Cultivating a security-conscious culture fosters employee awareness and a shared perspective on the importance of cybersecurity.

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM):

  • Plan: PLM strategies plan product development stages, aligning them with market demands and competitive analysis. This perspective ensures that products meet market needs.
  • Pattern: Recognizing successful product features from past releases informs product design. This perspective optimizes product development based on historical data.
  • Position: Evaluating how a product fits within the competitive landscape helps set pricing, branding, and target audience strategies. This perspective supports market positioning.
  • Ploy: Tactics like limited-time promotions can drive sales and outmaneuver competitors. This perspective adds a strategic element to marketing and sales.
  • Perspective: Fostering a culture of innovation and customer satisfaction ensures alignment with product-focused organizational values.

Social Media Marketing:

  • Plan: Social media marketing plans set goals, content calendars, and target audiences. This perspective ensures that social media efforts align with marketing objectives.
  • Pattern: Analyzing past social media performance helps identify content types and posting schedules that resonate with the audience. This perspective optimizes content strategies.
  • Position: Establishing a unique brand presence on social media platforms creates a competitive advantage. This perspective enhances brand positioning.
  • Ploy: Leveraging viral challenges or trending topics can gain visibility and engagement. This perspective adds a strategic edge to social media campaigns.
  • Perspective: Maintaining a consistent brand voice and values across social media interactions reinforces the brand’s identity.

Data Security and Privacy Compliance:

  • Plan: Data protection plans outline strategies like encryption and access controls to comply with regulations. This perspective ensures data security and legal compliance.
  • Pattern: Analyzing past data breaches helps identify vulnerabilities and patterns of attacks. This perspective informs proactive security measures.
  • Position: Assessing the organization’s compliance with data protection regulations and its reputation in safeguarding customer data supports risk assessment and compliance efforts.
  • Ploy: Using deceptive tactics like honeypots can divert potential attackers and protect sensitive data. This perspective enhances security strategies.
  • Perspective: Cultivating a culture of data security and privacy compliance ensures that employees understand and prioritize data protection.

Startup Business Strategy:

  • Plan: Startup business plans outline goals, market entry strategies, and target customer segments. This perspective ensures that the startup’s direction aligns with market opportunities.
  • Pattern: Analyzing successful startup practices and market trends informs decision-making. This perspective helps startups learn from others’ experiences.
  • Position: Identifying a unique niche and value propositions within the industry defines the startup’s market positioning. This perspective guides differentiation strategies.
  • Ploy: Implementing disruptive marketing strategies can help startups gain market share quickly. This perspective supports rapid growth strategies.
  • Perspective: Establishing a culture of innovation and adaptability aligns team members with a shared perspective on seizing opportunities and responding to market feedback.

Key takeaways

  1. Mintzberg’s 5Ps of Strategy is a strategy development framework that incorporates five key perspectives.
  2. Mintzberg’s 5Ps of Strategy argues that one-dimensional strategies are unreliable from one day to the next because they do not adapt to dynamic markets.
  3. Mintzberg’s 5Ps of Strategy sometimes includes a sixth perspective: practice. Practice enables a business to implement an effective strategic plan by remaining present and undistracted.

Key Highlights

  • Introduction to Mintzberg’s 5Ps of Strategy:
    • Mintzberg’s 5Ps of Strategy is a strategy development model devised by Henry Mintzberg.
    • It encompasses five perspectives: Plan, Ploy, Pattern, Position, and Perspective, each contributing to a comprehensive strategy.
  • Purpose and Context:
    • Mintzberg recognized that dynamic business environments require strategies with adaptability and depth, going beyond simple approaches.
    • The five perspectives collectively create a multidimensional and adaptable strategy.
  • Five Perspectives of Mintzberg’s Strategy:
    • Plan: Focuses on future goals and courses of action. Involves SWOT or PESTLE analysis to create a strategic plan.
    • Ploy: Involves strategic actions to discourage, divert, or influence competitors while maintaining focus on one’s own strategy.
    • Pattern: Examines past successes to identify what works well and develop strategies accordingly.
    • Position: Focuses on market positioning, target audience, unique selling proposition (USP), and brand strength.
    • Perspective: Represents the organization’s worldview and culture, influencing strategy based on shared thinking and behavior.
  • Sixth Perspective: Practice:
    • To enhance the implementation of Mintzberg’s 5Ps, a sixth perspective called Practice is suggested.
    • Embodying the Strategy: Physically performing actions that align with the strategy’s goals, as seen with streaming services creating original content.
    • Sensing the Strategy: Ensuring strategy resonates well with consumer reactions and feedback.
    • Keeping Strategy in the Present: Balancing future goals and past consistency with present realities to prevent distractions.
  • Key Takeaways:
    • Mintzberg’s 5Ps of Strategy comprises five perspectives: Plan, Ploy, Pattern, Position, and Perspective.
    • The model addresses the need for adaptable strategies in dynamic environments.
    • A possible sixth perspective, Practice, enhances strategy execution through physical embodiment, consumer feedback, and present-focused planning.

Connected Strategy Frameworks


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Ansoff Matrix

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Business Model Canvas

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Lean Startup Canvas

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Blitzscaling Canvas

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Blue Ocean Strategy

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BCG Matrix

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GAP Analysis

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GE McKinsey Model

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McKinsey 7-S Model

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PESTEL Analysis


Scenario Planning

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STEEPLE Analysis

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SWOT Analysis

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Read next:

Read Next: BCG MatrixGE McKinsey Matrix.

Related Strategy Concepts: Go-To-Market StrategyMarketing StrategyBusiness ModelsTech Business ModelsJobs-To-Be DoneDesign ThinkingLean Startup CanvasValue ChainValue Proposition CanvasBalanced ScorecardBusiness Model CanvasSWOT AnalysisGrowth HackingBundlingUnbundlingBootstrappingVenture CapitalPorter’s Five ForcesPorter’s Generic StrategiesAnsoff Matrix.

More Strategy Tools: Porter’s Five ForcesPESTEL AnalysisSWOTPorter’s Diamond ModelAnsoffTechnology Adoption CurveTOWSSOARBalanced ScorecardOKRAgile MethodologyValue PropositionVTDF Framework.

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