JP Castlin wrote a blog post titled Perspectives & Positioning: Introducing Henry Mintzberg (October 15, 2021).

« we are going to take a look at one of the parts of Henry Mintzberg’s famous 5P model: the strategic perspective.

« he is perhaps most popularly known for establishing (together with James Waters) the notions of deliberate and emergent strategies.

« In reality, though, strategic plans are regularly diverted from or completely ignored, be it out of necessity, incomprehension or ignorance. A set of actions instead ‘emanate’ as the organization learns what works in practice.  »

« A strategy realized as intended will per definition be deliberate. If it is realized despite, or in the absence of, intentions, it is considered emergent.  »

« Although the paper that introduces the model is worth reading in full for anyone who wants to dig deep, we will, as noted above, focus on one of interpretation in particular here and now – the strategic perspective.  »

« Contrary to positioning which seeks to define the company relative to an external environment, a perspective looks inside the organization and establishes its way of perceiving the world  »

« Changing position within a perspective is, he argues, a relatively small matter. Changing perspective even while maintaining position, however, is not.  »

« ‘Consider the example of the Honda Company … it did not go to America with the main intention of selling small, family motorcycles at all; rather, the company seemed to fall into that market almost inadvertently. But once it was clear to the Honda executives that they had wandered into a lucrative strategic position, that presumably changed their plan. In other words, their strategy emerged, step by step, but once recognized, was made deliberate.’  »

« Although the conclusion appears to intuitively make sense – the behavior of complex adaptive systems (such as firms) does indeed emerge – the underlying reasoning is rather wobbly…   »

« What is more likely is that strategic perspectives are temporal. At any one moment in time, organizations have an idea of what works. Over time, that idea may prove more or less stable but, crucially, it is perpetually changing. Honda may have a more informed perspective today than yesterday, but not as informed as it will be tomorrow.  »

« For strategic perspectives to be practically useful, they have to be more than a post hoc statement  »


Henry Mintzberg is the author of Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning  (2013)

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