Five Ps for Strategy*
Human nature insists on a definition for every concept. The field of strategic management cannot afford to rely on a single definition of strategy, indeed the word has long been used implicitly in different ways even if it has traditionally been defined formally in only one.
Explicit recognition of multiple definitions can help practitioners and researchers alike to maneuver through this difficult field. Accordingly, this article presents five definitions of strategy-as plan, ploy, pattern, position, and perspective-and considers some of their interrelationships. To almost anyone you care to ask, strategy is a plan-some sort of consciously intended course of action, a guideline (or …show more content…
But that is an assumption, which may prove false.
Thus, the definitions of strategy as' plan and pattern can be quite independent of each other: plans may go unrealized, while patterns may appear without preconception. To paraphrase Hume, strategies may result from human actions but not human designs." If we label the first definition intended strategy and the second realized strategy, as shown in Figure 1, then we can distinguish deliberate strategies, where patterns developed in the absence of intentions, or despite them (which went unrealized).
Labelling strategies as plans or patterns still begs one basic question: strategies about what? Many writers respond by discussing the deployment of resources (e.g., Chandler, in one of the best known definitionsI6),but the question remains: which resources and for what purposes?
An army may plan to reduce the number of nails in its shoes, or a corporation may realize a pattern of marketing only products painted black, but these hardly meet the lofty label
"strategy." O r do they?
As the word has been handed down from the military, "strategy" refers to the important things, "tactics" to the details (more formally, "tactics teaches the use of armed forces in the engagement, strategy the use of engagements for the object of the war""). Nails in shoes, colors of cars: these are certainly details. The problem is that in retrospect details can