Background Information A Look Back at Strategy

Greiner, Bhambri, and Cummings identified seven periods in the history of strategic management.2

1. 1940s: Budget extrapolation and financial goals. In this decade, strategic plans consisted of financial forecasts.

2. 1950s: Long-range planning and formal models. Detailed, top-down formal strategic plans addressed business strategy.

3. 1960s: Business idea and corporate identity. The concept of a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis and corporate identity took center stage as companies pondered what business they should be in.

4. 1970s: Competitive advantage analytics. Analytic matrices such as scenario planning, experience curves, and growth share matrices emerged as companies focused on strategic management tools and techniques.

5. 1980s: Strategy implementation, capability, and alignment. Disillusionment with earlier strategic planning practices set in as studies showed that industry factors were not able to fully account for inter-firm profit differentials. Companies turned to the Resource Based View of the firm and examined strategy in the context of the firm's internal assets.

6. 1990s: Strategic leadership and reengineering. In this era, strategic management was embodied in the Chief Executive Officer as the heroic leader.

7. 2000: Continuous strategic renewal. Strategic management is about human capital, knowledge management, and organizational learning.

Mintzberg's 1998 book Strategy Safari: A Guided Tour Through the Wilds of Strategic Management is an interesting read on the various schools of thought on strategy over the years.3 In his book, Mintzberg describes these schools of thought about strategy:

►Design school—strategy is a process of conception.

►Planning school—strategy formation is a formal process.

►Positioning school—strategy formation is an analytical process.

Entrepreneurial school—strategy formation is a visionary process.

►Cognitive school—strategy formation is a mental process.

►Learning school—strategy formation is an emergent process.

►Power school—strategy formation is a process of negotiation.

►Cultural school—strategy formation is a collective process.

►Environmental school—strategy formation is a reactive process.

►Configurational school—strategy formation is a process of transformation.

Strategy is not just one of the above schools but a blend of them. Greiner, Bhambri, and Cummings offer a good synopsis of strategic management:

►Strategic management is comprehensive and integrative.

►All major business disciplines are relevant to strategy.

►Strategic thinking and behavior are very dynamic.

►Strategy is a constant search for a competitive edge with high returns.

►Every firm is indeed unique in its strategic capabilities.

►The firm's strategy and organizational context must align and reinforce each other.

►Strategic management requires spontaneous thinking and doing.

►Strategic change will happen frequently.

Mintzberg introduced us to the five Ps of strategy whereby strategy is a plan, pattern, position, perspective, and ploy. Whereas Mintzberg favors the concept of "crafting" strategy as an art, others, such as Grant, support a more systematic and analytic approach whereby strategy helps companies make decisions; it is a process for coordination and communication, and it involves a target (vision).4

It is clear that strategy is a dynamic and multi-faceted concept. Strategy is not about clear-cut answers. Strategy is more about understanding what is happening in the internal and external environment to better grasp the issues and complexities that impact a company. These different perspectives on strategy will help readers refine their understanding of business strategy—the topic of how companies compete.

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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