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CHAPTER 1: STRATEGIES(亨利•明茨伯格)

中國經濟管理大學15年前 (2010-01-27)講座會議334

CHAPTER 1: STRATEGIES(亨利•明茨伯格)


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    亨利·明茨伯格《戰略過程》

    CHAPTER 1: STRATEGIES

    MINTZBERG, "FIVE PS FOR STRATEGY"

    Summary of Reading   

    Strategy has been defined in one way, but used implicitly in different ways. Most people define strategy as a plan: a consciously intended course of action. Plans are made in advance of the actions to which they apply, and they are developed consciously and purposefully. Strategy can also be a ploy: a manoeuvre intended to outwit an opponent or competitor. But defining strategy as a plan is not sufficient; we need a definition that encompasses the resulting behaviour. Strategy may be a pattern; a stream of action. By this definition, strategy is consistency in behaviour, whether or not intended. Even though few people would define strategy this way, many seem at one time or another use it in this way. The fourth definition is that strategy is a position, i.e., a means of locating an organization in what organization theorists like to call an "environment." This definition is compatible with all the others; a position may be pre-selected and sought through a plan, or it may be reached or found through a pattern of behaviour. Even though most positional definitions are based on the idea of competition, this view may be based on the achievement of any viable position, whether or not directly competitive. Strategy as a position has recently been extended to Collective strategy, i.e., cooperation between organizations. Finally, strategy is a perspective, its content consisting not just of a chosen position, but also of an ingrained way of perceiving the world. In this view, strategy is to the organization what personality is to the individual. It suggests that strategy is a concept, that all strategies are abstractions, which exist only in the minds of interested parties. What is of key importance here is that the perspective is shared.


    Plans and patterns may be independent: plans may go unrealized; patterns may appear without preconception. Where previous intentions are realized, we have deliberate strategies. Where patterns developed in the absence of intentions, we have emergent strategies. Purely deliberate or purely emergent strategies are probably rare. Most strategies probably sit on a continuum between the two (from most deliberate to most emergent):

    Planned: centrally‑formulated intentions are precisely stated, implemented using formal controls, and the environment is benign or controllable;

    Entrepreneurial: intentions are the personal and unarticulated vision of a single leader, who personally controls the organization, which is in a protected environmental niche;

    Ideological: intentions are the collective vision of the organization's members, controlled through shared norms; the organization is active vis‑à‑vis the environment;

    Umbrella: organization's members must act within boundaries defined by leadership, and strategies are partly deliberate and partly emergent, or “deliberately emergent”;

    Process: leadership controls process of strategy (e.g., recruitment, structure), leaves strategy content to others, and strategies are partly deliberate, partly emergent, or deliberately emergent;

    Disconnected: patterns in their own actions are developed by loosely coupled members or subunits, whether or not central intentions exist;

    Consensus: members converge, using mutual adjustment, on patterns that pervade the organization even though central or common intentions don't exist;

    Imposed: the external environment dictates patterns in actions, either through direct imposition or by bounding choice.


    Strategy as position and perspective can be combined with strategy as plan and pattern. Perspective may be a plan, or it may give rise to plans. Patterns may be recognized and give rise to formal plans, perhaps within an overall perspective. Perspectives probably arise from long­standing patterns. Change in perspective is difficult, but change within a perspective is relatively easy. People often label important things “strategy” and the details “tactics”. But it is often wrong to do so, because details are important. It may be better to talk about shades of “strategic.” No single definition takes precedence over the others. They compete, but they also complement. Each adds important elements to our understanding of strategy. Plan deals with how leaders set direction and also deals with how intentions form in the human brain. Ploy takes us into the realm of direct competition; the use of threats and feints to gain advantage. For strategy as pattern the focus is on action, but also on the achievement of consistency in that action; this encourages us to consider the notion that strategies can emerge as well as be deliberate. Position encourages us to look at organizations in their competitive environments, enabling us to think of organizations in ecological terms (i.e., organisms seeking protected niches). Strategy is not just a notion of how to deal with an enemy or a set of competitors or a market. It draws us into some fundamental issues about organizations as instruments for collective perception and action. The use of various definitions enriches our ability to understand and manage the processes by which strategies form.

    Discussion Questions

    1. Is it truly possible for a firm to have a strategy in the absence of intention?

    This question is intended to stimulate discussion. It does not have a clearly right or clearly wrong answer. For some finals, it would not be likely that strategies would exist in the absence of intention. The best examples would probably be utilities. To a great extent, the absence of intention would be unlikely for most machine organizations and divisionalized firms. These kinds of organizations are large, and standardization is an integral part of their functioning. Also, they typically face stable environments. These factors make planning (i.e., the formation of intentions prior to action) more feasible, and sometimes even necessary. Other types of organizations, notably innovative ones, also known as adhocracies, often plunge right into action, without the prior development of intentions. Any kind of firm that faces an uncertain and dynamic environment is a good candidate for strategy forming, out of a pattern of action, without preconceived intentions. In larger, complex organizations, there are often subunits that act without any explicit set of intentions from upper management. Patterns emerge from their activities; these subunit strategies may later be adopted by the parent organization. Hence, even in large organizations, it is possible for strategies to form in the absence of intention.



    2. Are plans and patterns independent, at least in theory? What about in practice?

    In theory, plans and patterns may be independent. For example, a new organization developing a plan may not have any previous pattern on which to draw. The plan is indeed being done from scratch. This would also be true for ad hoc plans drawn up by organizational committees. Patterns certainly may develop without any prior intention‑developing, i.e., planning. Many embryonic companies would start working without fully planning their actions. But in many practical circumstances, plans and patterns would be linked. Many organizations that decide to do strategic planning bring a lot of historical baggage with them; in other words, they have formed patterns, which influence the way they approach the planning task. One could argue that part of the internal analysis, which is usually done in strategic planning, is a form of identifying patterns, some of which have worked, some of which have not. And it is certainly possible, though not as common as is thought, that plans ultimately shape patterns of action.


    3. What is the difference between umbrella strategy and process strategy?

    These two types of strategies are similar in that they both are “deliberately emergent”, i.e., the details of strategies are allowed to emerge within particular boundaries. They differ in the way in which these boundaries are set. For umbrella strategies, the leadership articulates the boundaries, and these boundaries are widely publicized and known within the organization. One of the best examples is 3M Corporation's requirement that 25% of sales must come from products developed within the past five years. For process strategies, the boundaries may not be widely circulated by the leadership. Instead, organizational processes (recruitment, promotion, structure) are manipulated in such a way that strategic activity stays within boundaries.


    4. What is the difference between ideological strategy and strategy as perspective?

    They are very similar. Strategy as perspective could be the worldview of an individual, but it is more likely to refer to an ingrained way of viewing the world for a collective of people. Ideological strategy is the active seeking of that collective worldview. It tries to achieve a collective vision by means of strongly shared norms, which Mintzberg calls ideology. In other words, the pursuit of an ideological strategy, using shared norms, is designed to create a strategic perspective among the members of large organizations. But a strategic perspective may arise out of experiences that are not so dependent on ideology.


    5. Mintzberg says that the distinction between strategy and tactics is dangerous. What is your opinion on this?

    This question is designed to stimulate discussion. Some students may disagree, saying that strategy is definitely more important than tactics. They may say that the big picture is what top management should stress, and others should work out that details. Excessive attention to details is what causes top managers to fritter away their time while the whole organization drifts. Other students may agree with Mintzberg. They may argue that top managers who neglect details do not have any raw experiences upon which to draw from when they are trying to come up with strategic ideas. In other words, they have nothing upon which to build a perspective. They don't even have a good knowledge base upon which to plan. They simply don't have an intimate knowledge of the business.


    6. The author says that it pays to manage the details and let the strategies emerge. What is your opinion?

    This question is designed to stimulate discussion. Many students will disagree with this statement. They will argue that strategy is too important to just let it emerge. These will be the students who strongly believe in planning. They will want to see a more active, formulative approach undertaken by top management. Other students will agree with the author. They will argue that in many (perhaps most) industries, it is simply not possible for top management to know what will need to be done. They will also argue that innovation is becoming increasingly important. Both of these factors make centralized planning less attractive and less effective. Adaptation and innovation are facilitated through the use of umbrella, process, and consensus strategies, which are the forms of strategy where strategy content details are allowed to emerge.


    7. The author quotes Rumelt as saying that strategy means seeking an advantageous position, whether or not directly competitive. What do you think of this?

    This question is designed to stimulate discussion. Most students think of head‑to‑head action when they hear the word competition. The discussion in this part of the article implies that strategy may involve less of that and much more of an avoidance of competition. A great deal of strategy theory talks about the creation of strong positions that deter competition, e.g., Miles's and Snow's Defender strategy, or Porter's Cost Leadership strategy. Another area of heavy discussion in the literature is the seeking out of protected niches, e.g., Miles's and Snow's Prospector strategy, or Porter’s Focus strategy. The question is aimed at getting students to realize that even though competitive forces are constantly being trained, the organization strategists often try to position the organization to dodge, and not confront, these threats.


    8. If strategy as perspective must be based on shared perspective, in what kinds of organizations might it be useful?

    Shared perspective requires, almost by definition, that there be many people in the organization, so that there are people to do the sharing. This implies that strategy, as perspective, is likelier in medium and large organizations. There are major well‑known examples: Hewlett Packard, IBM, Sony, Apple Computer. These organizations spend a lot of energy and resources getting their people indoctrinated in the proper norms. This is not to say that strategy, as perspective, can't have a role in smaller organizations. Perspective doesn't come only from indoctrination. Shared experiences can also be the root of shared perspective. One kind of strategy that encourages shared experience is consensus strategy, where strategic content emerges over time through mutual adjustment. The small organizations that are likely to use consensus strategy could therefore develop a shared perspective. Of course, the experiences of an individual will shape his or her individual worldview. In simple structures, or entrepreneurial organizations, strategy is the vision of the leader. This vision will certainly be influenced by his or her worldview. So, strategy as perspective is a concept also applicable to the smallest of organizations.


    9. In what ways are the five Ps of strategy related? Does the author's answer to this make sense? Are there other ways that they fit together?

    The second and third sub‑questions are designed to stimulate discussion. Mintzberg argues that the conventional hierarchy of the strategy definitions is that perspective gives rise to plans, which position the organization and allow them to create patterns in their actions. Another scenario has the pattern or position leading to plans, i.e., the formalization of emergent strategy all happens within a given perspective. A third combination has the pattern or position producing a particular perspective. The last possibility mentioned by the author is perspective constraining changes in position, i.e., the organization repositions itself from Point A to Point B, which are both within its worldview, when it should move from Point A to Point X, the latter being outside the organization's worldview. (The author gives the example of the Egg McMuffin; position changed, but it was still well within McDonald's fast‑food worldview.)

    PORTER, “WHAT IS STRATEGY?”

    Summary of Reading

    This reading ties to the following statement in its discussion of strategy by the foremost thinker in the “positioning school”: “Strategy is the creation of a unique and valuable position, involving a different [to competitors] set of activities…[it is about] creating fit among a company’s activities” (pp.1-19, 1-22). Porter adds a measure of sophistication to the well-established positioning school by emphasizing a systems or configuration view of positioning. Such a view focuses on the (mutually-reinforcing) interdependencies between activities necessary to support a particular position over the long-term. Thus, organizational structure, systems, and processes need to be strategy-specific. Porter makes three key points to support this elaboration of the positioning view of strategy.


    First, strategy should be distinguished from “operational effectiveness.”  Strategy involves activities that deliver a unique value proposition over the long term, thereby establishing differences that a firm can preserve vis á vis its rivals. While considerable gains flow from operational effectiveness (which denotes doing individually well in the many activities by which a firm transforms its inputs), good strategy effectively translates these through a superior combination of sustainable and superior profitability by linking them to the delivery of a superior mix of value for the customer.


    The second point follows from this: strategy is about being different, and this is achieved through deliberately choosing a distinctive and mutually reinforcing set of activities tailored to a position. That is, the appropriate choice of an activity set for the firm will be conditioned by optimizing across three basics sources of strategic positioning: variety- based (i.e. producing a subset of the industry’s products or services); needs-based (i.e. serving most or all of the needs of a particular group of customers); and accessibility-based (i.e. reaching customers in a particular way).



    Thirdly, strategy requires trade-offs in order to achieve fit: not pursuing some activities which, in isolation, could be viewed as a value-creating, but are incompatible with the broader set of activities for reasons of contradiction (internally or in the minds of customers) or due to limits on coordination and control. For a superior strategy, choices of activities will be exceptions to, rather than normal practices within, an industry; therefore, a firm will need to be making exceptional choices across many activities (see the Southwest example discussed by Porter). Three types of (non mutually-exclusive) fit identified by Porter will already be evident from the previous paragraphs, in ascending order of their power to contribute to sustainability. These are: simple consistency between each activity and the overall strategy; activities that are mutually reinforcing; and optimization.  The reading draws on an extended discussion of Southwest Airlines in advancing its key points.

    Discussion Questions

    1. Does the reading offer a coherent account of competitive advantage?

    With its clear focus on creating value in hard-to-imitate ways, the reading clearly addresses competitive advantage. Furthermore, the central notion of fit among activities, and of the resulting activity system and position sets out a coherent range of objectives and actions that mangers can pursue in seeking to build competitive advantage.


    2. What does the author have to say about the limitability of strategy? How persuasive do you find his argument?

    Porter emphasizes that imitation is made difficult, or even impossible, by the need to imitate simultaneously across many dimensions (so that you have an effective combination). The complexity of cause-effect relations, trade-offs, and complementarities makes any activity system (and especially a superior one) very difficult to copy. However, there is a problem with this argument; how to explain why innovation of an activity system can be profitable, whereas imitation is not? Clearly, when trying to account for the possibilities of imitation we need to address barriers other than complexity (of the activity system), such as resource requirement or inter-firm relationships.


    3. Does the reading offer useful insights into how to deal with change?

    The answer to this question can usefully be related to discussion of the configuration school of strategy-making in the subsequent reading. When activities fit tightly together in a system, they can be expected to have a high inertial component, because change in any activity threatens to introduce inconsistency into the system.  Only small changes are likely to be easily accommodated. Major change in strategy will require changing many of the activities at once. Porter, however, has little to say on how to do this while staying in business.


    MINTZBERG & LAMPEL, “REFLECTING ON THE STRATEGY PROCESS”

    Summary of Reading

    The authors address how the process of making strategy should be thought about, and how it has been thought about and taught by, scholars of strategy. They identify 10 strategy “schools” and group these into two categories. The design, planning, and positioning schools are all prescriptive as each emphasizes how strategies should be formulated and seek to specify an ideal way of making strategy. The design school sees SWOT analysis as the heart of strategy-making: strategy as top management’s conception of the proper fit between the organization’s strengths and weaknesses and its environment’s threats and opportunities. The planning school developed a more formal version of the design school, with analysis carried out by professional planners generating a strategy to be adopted by top management. The positioning school drew on industrial-organization economics and military strategy to emphasize strategy-making as the specification of (five) forces shaping every industry structure and top management’s choosing one of a few generic positions as a result of this analysis.

     

    The descriptive category contains the six schools that deal with differing views of how strategic thinking actually gets done.  These schools are concerned less with prescribing ideal strategic behaviour than with describing how strategies do in fact get made. The entrepreneurial school emphasizes the characteristics of the creative leader and describes strategy-making as a process flowing from this visionary individual; the cognitive school also focuses on the individual but emphasizes the leader’s mental processes and seeks to explain how the “mental maps”, that constitute strategy, get formed. While both of these schools imply strategy as a process that emerges from individual visioning and coping efforts, the learning school describes strategy-making as an organizationally-based (rather than individual-based) process emerging from the piecemeal efforts of many organization players such that the organization “muddles through.” Next comes the power school, which emphasizes organizational politics, and describes strategy-making as a process of negotiation, grounded on such phenomena as empire building and coalitions. “Hold power up to the mirror and its reverse image is culture” (p1-27).  The cultural school focuses on common interests and integration (as opposed to the individual interests and fragmentation of the power school) and describes strategy-making as a collective process grounded on such phenomena as organizational myths and ideology and the uniqueness of any given firm’s processes. Whereas the cultural school can be described as an inside-out approach to strategy-making, the environmental school contends that it is the environment which does the choosing in strategy, for those organizations unsuited to environment are selected out of existence.


    Finally, the configuration school can be said to constitute its own category, seeking to integrate the insights of all of the other schools. It describes strategy-making in terms of distinct “ideal types” i.e., distinct clusters of circumstances (e.g. unchanging environment), structure (e.g. hierarchical), and style of behaviour (e.g. formalized) make one form of strategy-making more appropriate than another.  In the notional cluster just described, a prescriptive process would be likely. These configurations will remain stable for considerable periods of time. Gradually, however, inconsistency builds in the configuration (e.g. new and dynamic competitors appear); the need for change may be best handled by changing many elements at once, i.e., “leaping” to a new configuration. As the authors conclude in their book-length version (with Bruce Ahlstrand) of this reading, “Strategy formation is judgmental designing, intuitive visioning, and emergent learning; it is about transformation as well as perpetuation; it must involve individual cognition and social interaction, co-operation as well as conflict; it has to include analyzing before and programming after, as well as negotiating during, and all of this must be in response to what can be a demanding environment.” (Strategy safari: A guided tour through the wilds of strategic management, 1998, pp. 372 & 373). Extracts from this book are included in chapters 6 and 7; the “configuration school” is further elaborated in the Mintzberg reading chapter 8, and in particular detail in the Mintzberg readings that open each of chapters 13-18.

    Discussion Questions

    1. Identify some broad characteristics for a good strategy system in any company.

    We can think of this in terms of two broad criteria: those making the strategy get good information personally, making a leap with information in some conceptual sense. Front-liner workers are often better at the first, senior manager better at the second, and middle managers tend to tie the two together. Good strategy-making will likely require a tremendous amount of communication and interaction around ideas and possibilities between all of these players. Sometimes strategy is genius (entrepreneurial school), but frequently it’s mulling things around over time (learning school) until finally the market hits you over the head (environmental school) and you start to realize what you have to do (prescriptive category).


    2. Suppose a firm has settled on a good strategy. How long can one expect it to last?

    Nothing gets done, or things get done badly, if strategy is constantly being put into question. Most of the time, organizations simply pursue strategies that are well established and working. Occasionally, they have to put them into question, and that's the time to get into an iterative process formulating and implementing and back to formulating to arrive at something else that’s going to work.


    3. How simple should a strategy be?

    Sometimes very, very simple indeed, or at least the articulation of the essence is simple. The full strategy is usually very elaborate and complex. But some sense of how the firm is positioned in the marketplace can be rather simple. For example, an airline such as Lufthansa has a fairly simple market position in terms of the categories of customer it serves and where and how it provides service to them.



    4. How unique should a strategy be?

    The prescriptive-category schools, and especially the positioning school, emphasize the unique content (e.g. in terms of target market) of a strategy.  However, consistent with what the descriptive-category schools argue, we can say that it’s not the uniqueness of the strategy so much as the execution that really sets a firm apart, that competitors are likely to find it much more difficult to imitate how a superior firm works that what that firm does. Thus the great firm is more likely to be one that does ordinary things in brilliant ways.


    5. Why do you think there have so many different schools of strategy-making?

    Different schools have dominated at different times. Each school is a reflection of a particular perspective and is often grounded on very different key premises. Each school  leverages and is constrained by the attributes of the society and historical context of where and when it originated. So, contextual factors, such as wartime experience with large-scale logistics planning and popularization of the case-study method in business education, had a profound influence on strategic management thinking in the post-World War II years. The prescriptive schools developed in this context are built on premises of hierarchy, command and control, stability, and environmental predictability. They tend to embody the values of North American businesses and society. Given the internationalization and relative dominance of American business in this period, these became very popular schools and have been institutionalized in the processes of many companies.


    These approaches have been challenged by the process schools that view strategy-making as less structural and more developmental, less programmable and more emergent, less quantitatively bound and more creatively expansive. Not surprisingly, the context for the development of these schools has, in many cases, been a competitive environment recognized as becoming increasingly turbulent and more diverse. Having said that, it should also be emphasized that, as indicated by the brief discussion of the configuration school and Table 2 (p 1-28), the boundaries between the schools are often not clear-cut but rather overlapping and sometimes vague.


    6. Is this identification and discussion of the schools of strategy-making just academic navel-gazing or are managers likely to find it useful?

    The discussion provides a language that defines the different approaches to strategy-making, illuminates the differences among them, and suggests when their use is appropriate. It therefore helps managers to structure how they should think about strategic management in their organization. Table 1 conveniently summarizes the dimensions of the schools, and managers could use this as a tool to become more aware of their own approach and the alternatives available to them. It could also be valuable in selecting a consultant to help in strategy-making for the firm. Without it, an organization may unwittingly buy into a particular approach to strategy-making.



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