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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Mintzberg’s 5Ps of Strategy is a strategy development framework that incorporates five key perspectives.
- 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.
- 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.
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