Porter or Mintzberg: Whose View of Strategy Is the Most Relevant Today?

(english follows)

Sitter och skriver om strategier och hur de skapas, implementeras och följs upp. Det låter så klart logiskt att det är i den ordningen som vi tar beslut och agerar, men Mintzberg vände på steken på 70-talet och pekade på att det inte alls var så det gick till – utan att den strategi man “väljer” är den som i mångt och mycket utkristalliseras ur organisationen och den externa omgivningen. Mintzberg skriver att strategier växer som ogräs, och behöver inte sättas i växthus för att ges förutsättningar för tillväxt. Jag tycker det är lite tilltalande sätt att se strategiformulering och förändring i företag och organisationer. Det är lite ödmjukt inför att mycket av det vi försöker göra inte är något vi kan påverka. Ofta sker något för att någon uttrycker ett behov, t.ex. dottern till uppfinnaren av Polaroid som frågade varför hon inte kunde få bilden på en gång, eller se bara på Facebook som växte sig till i en skolmiljö, och egentligen hela internet som började som ett militärt projekt.

mintzberg emergent design

Såg en artikel från Forbes från mars 2011 med samma titel som jag tänkt ha, och slogs av att man fortfarande inte enats kring detta. Så, det här med Mintzberg vs Porter har varit en het fråga länge, där Porter mera stått på management konsulternas sida och menat att avsiktlig strategi är det viktigaste. Porters modell har också starkt kritiserats av en del forskare. Men vad jag tycker Mintzberg också gör är att säga att säga att man ska göra båda saker, både “deliberate” och “emergent”:

“The grass-root model of strategy formation is false, as anyone who seeks to test it in a broader context will quickly find out. But it is no more false than the widely accepted conventional model – the “deliberate” (or “hothouse”) view of strategy formulation – which no one has bothered to test. A viable theory of strategy making must encompass both models. No organization can function with strategies that are always and purely emergent; that would amount to a complete abdication of will and leadership, not to mention conscious thought. But none can likewise function with strategies that are always and purely deliberate; that would amount to an unwillingness to learn, a blindness to whatever is unexpected.” (Mintzberg & McHugh, 1985)

I en annan artikel nio år senare skriver Henry Mintzberg så här om strategiskt planerande:

“Strategic thinking…is about synthesis. It involves intuition and creativity. The outcome of strategic thinking is an integrated perspective of the firm, a not too-precisely articulated vision of direction, such as the vision of Jim Clark, the founder of Silicon Graphics, that three-dimensional visual computing is the way to make computers easier.” (Mintzberg, 1994)

Så återgår jag till mitt eget skrivande på ämnet…

(in english)

I am sitting and writing about strategies and how they are formulated, implemented and monitored. That specific order of events makes sense logically,  but Mintzberg turned things around in the 70s, and pointed out that it was not at all how it happened – but the strategy to a large degree emerge from the organization and the external environment. Mintzberg writes that strategies are growing like weeds, and need not be in the greenhouse to be given opportunities for growth. I think it is an appealing approach to strategy formulation and change in organizations. It’s a bit humble in that much of what we try to do is not something we can directly influence. Often someone expresses a need, e.g. the daughter of the inventor of Polaroid who asked why she could not get the image at once, or just look at Facebook, and really the whole Internet began as a military project.

I saw an article from Forbes in March 2011 with the same title as I used here, and it suggested that the strategy gurus still do not agree. So, the Mintzberg vs. Porter is a hot subject still today, where Porter stand more on the side of management consultants suggesting that deliberate strategy are the most important. Porter’s model has also been strongly criticized by some researchers. But what I find Mintzberg actually saying is that you should do two things, both “deliberate” and “emergent”. However, one should realize how much is deliberate and emergent:

“The grass-root model of strategy formation is false, as anyone who Seeks to test it in a Broader Context will Quickly find out. But it is no more false than the widely accepted Conventional model – the” deliberate “(or” hothouse ” ) view of strategy formulation – Which no one has bothered to test. A viable theory of strategy making must encompass bothering models. No. organization can function with Strategies That are always and Purely emergent; That would Amount to a complete abdication of will and leadership, not to mention conscious thought. But none can likewise function with Strategies That are always and Purely deliberate; That would Amount to an unwillingness to learn, a blindness to whatever is unexpected. ” (Mintzberg & McHugh, 1985)

In another article, nine years later, Henry Mintzberg writes about strategic planning:

“Strategic thinking … is about synthesis. It involves intuition and creativity. The outcome of strategic thinking is an integrated perspective of the firm, a not too-precisely articulated vision of direction, Such as the vision of Jim Clark, the founder of Silicon Graphics, That three-dimensional visual computing is the way to make computers Easier. ” (Mintzberg, 1994)

So I return to my own writing on the subject …

References

Mintzberg, Henry, 1994, “The fall and rise of strategic planning”, Harvard Business review, pp. 107-114.

Mintzberg, Henry and Alexandra McHugh, 1985,  “Strategy Formation in Adhocracy”, Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol. 39, No. 2 (Jun., 1985), pp. 169-197

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