Mintzberg Schools of Thought

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Mintzberg’s Ten Schools of Thought about Strategy Formation Model
The Design School
A process of
conception

Approach
Clear and unique strategies are
formulated. The internal situation of
the organisation is used to match
the external environment.

Basis
Architecture
as a
metaphor.

Contributions
Order.
Reduced ambiguity.
Useful in relatively stable environment
Support strong and visionary
leadership.

The Planning School
A formal process

A rigorous set of steps are taken,
from the analysis situation to the
execution of the strategy

Gives clear direction.
Enables resource allocation.
Control

The Positioning
School
An analytical process

It places the business within the
context of its industry and looks at
how the organisation can improve its
strategic positioning within that
industry

Urban
planning,
system
theory,
cybernetics
Industrial
organisation
and military
strategy

The Entrepreneurial
School
A visionary process

The visionary process takes place
within the mind of the charismatic
founder or leader of an organisation.
Rely heavily on intuition, judgement,
wisdom, experience and insight

Economics

A sound vision and a visionary CEO can
help organisation to sail cohesively
through muddy waters especially in
early or very difficult years for the
organisation.
Deliberate in broad line but flexible and
emergent in the details.

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Strategic Management is a science.
Provides content in a systematic way to
the existing way of looking at strategy
Focus on hard facts.
Particularly useful in early stage of
strategy development, when date is
analysed.

Limitations
Simplification may distort reality.
Strategy has many variables and is inherently
complex.
Bypassing learning, inflexible in fast-changing
environment.
High risk of resistance
Can become too static
Risk of groupthink
Predicting is difficult
Top Management must create strategy from an
ivory tower
SAME AS PLANNING SCHOOL.
Neglects power, politics, culture, social elements.
Is biased towards large firms.
Number-oriented.

Typical
SWOT Analysis
Ashridge Mission Model

Sailing a predefined course can blind someone
for potential developments or unexpected
dangers.
How to find the right leader?
Entrepreneurial, visionary leaders have a
tendency to go too fat.
Being a CEO would be very demanding in this
perspective

Entrepreneurial
Government
Seven surprises for new
CEO’s
Leadership styles

Theory of Mechanistic
and Organic Systems
Parenting styles
Levers of Control
Scenario Planning
Competitive Advantage.
Five Forces.
Value Chain
BCG Matrix.
Game Theory.
The Art of War (Sun Tzu)

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Mintzberg’s Ten Schools of Thought about Strategy Formation Model
The Cognitive School
A mental process

Approach
Analyses how people perceive
patterns and process information.
Concentrates on what is happening
in the mind of the strategist and how
it processes the information

Basis
Psychology

The Learning School
An emergent process

Management pays close attention
over time to what does work and
what does not work. They
incorporate ‘lessons learned’ into
their overall plan of action.
The world is too complex to allow
strategies to be developed all at
once.
As clear plans or visions.
Strategies must emerge in small
steps as organisation adapts or
‘learns’.
The strategy is developed as a
process of negotiation between
power holders within the company,
and/or between the company and its
external stakeholders.

Education.
Learning
Theory

Tries to involve various groups and
departments within the company.
Strategy formation is viewed as a
fundamentally collective and
cooperative process.
The strategy that is developed is a
reflection of the corporate culture of

Anthropology

The Power School
A process of
negotiation

The Cultural School
A collective process...
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