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.

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.

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.

Connected Business Concepts

In the 1970s, Bruce D. Henderson, founder of the Boston Consulting Group, came up with The Product Portfolio (aka BCG Matrix, or Growth-share Matrix), which would look at a successful business product portfolio based on potential growth and market shares. It divided products into four main categories: cash cows, pets (dogs), question marks, and stars.
The GE McKinsey Matrix was developed in the 1970s after General Electric asked its consultant McKinsey to develop a portfolio management model. This matrix is a strategy tool that provides guidance on how a corporation should prioritize its investments among its business units, leading to three possible scenarios: invest, protect, harvest, and divest.
A go-to-market strategy represents how companies market their new products to reach target customers in a scalable and repeatable way. It starts with how new products/services get developed to how these organizations target potential customers (via sales and marketing models) to enable their value proposition to be delivered to create a competitive advantage.
Sustainable marketing describes how a business will invest in social and environmental initiatives as part of its marketing strategy. Also known as green marketing, it is often used to counteract public criticism around wastage, misleading advertising, and poor quality or unsafe products.
The Six Forces Model is a variation of Porter’s Five Forces. The sixth force, according to this model, is the complementary products. In short, the six forces model is an adaptation especially used in the tech business world to assess the change of the context, based on new market entrants and whether those can play out initially as complementary products and in the long-term substitutes.
The lean startup canvas is an adaptation by Ash Maurya of the business model canvas by Alexander Osterwalder, which adds a layer that focuses on problems, solutions, key metrics, unfair advantage based, and a unique value proposition. Thus, starting from mastering the problem rather than the solution.
The general concept of Bootstrapping connects to “a self-starting process that is supposed to proceed without external input.” In business, Bootstrapping means financing the growth of the company from the available cash flows produced by a viable business model. Bootstrapping requires the mastery of the key customers driving growth.
You can use the Ansoff Matrix as a strategic framework to understand what growth strategy is more suited based on the market context. Developed by mathematician and business manager Igor Ansoff, it assumes a growth strategy can be derived by whether the market is new or existing, and the product is new or existing.
Andy Grove, helped Intel become among the most valuable companies by 1997. In his years at Intel, he conceived a management and goal-setting system, called OKR, standing for “objectives and key results.” Venture capitalist and early investor in Google, John Doerr, systematized in the book “Measure What Matters.”
First proposed by accounting academic Robert Kaplan, the balanced scorecard is a management system that allows an organization to focus on big-picture strategic goals. The four perspectives of the balanced scorecard include financial, customer, business process, and organizational capacity. From there, according to the balanced scorecard, it’s possible to have a holistic view of the business.

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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