Strategy Safari

Strategy is really a safari, I am convinced of that after reading the excellent book of Henry Mintzberg et al. Strategy Safari: The Complete Guide Through the Wilds of Strategic Management

Mintzberg divides the strategy process as conceived by different schools:

  1. The Design School:                               strategy formation as a process of conception
  2. The Planning School:                          strategy formation as a formal process
  3. The positioning School:                    strategy formation as an analytical process
  4. The Entrepreneurial School:        strategy formation as a visionary process
  5. The Cognitive School:                        strategy formation as a mental process
  6. The Learning School:                         strategy formation as an emergent process
  7. The Power School:                                strategy formation as a process of negotiation
  8. The Cultural School:                          strategy formation as a collective process
  9. The Environmental School: strategy formation as a reactive process
  10. The Configuration School:            strategy formation as a process of transformation

The first three schools are prescriptive in nature – more concerned with how strategy should be formulated than with how they necessarily do form.

Is strategy created  or emergent? The answer is both and every strategy process has to combine various aspects of the different schools. Strategy Safari is a great book and it should be read several times to really understand its profound implications on the meaning of business strategy.

Vodafone revamps mobile internet service

Digital convergence makes clear that the boundaries are not well defined and players from different domains are aiming at the same objectives. Vodafone revamps mobile internet service is a nice FT article in which is described the current scenario of Telco operators and Internet companies working on mobile Internet services and social networking.

And, Nokia is to acquire Dopplr, a social networking Internet service connecting people that travel around.

Biases in decision making

In Strategy Safari Mintzberg reports a nice table from a book by Spyros Makridakis Forecasting, Planning and Strategy for the 21st Century.

The table summarizes nicely the scientific literature on how biases influence decision making. These biases have obvious consequences for strategy making.

Search for supportive evidence: Willingness to gather facts which lead toward certain conclusions and to disregard other facts which threaten them

Inconsistency: Inability to apply the same decision criteria in similar situations

Conservatism: Failure to change ( or changing slowly) one’s own mind in light of new information evidence

Recency: The most recent events dominate those in the less recent past, which are downgraded or ignored

Availability: Reliance upon specific events easily recalled from memory, to the exclusion of other pertinent information

Anchoring: Predictions are unduly influenced by initial information which is given more weight in the forecasting process

Illusory correlations: Belief that patterns are evident and/or two variables are casually related when they are not

Selective perception: People tend to see problems in terms of their own background and experience

Regression effect: Persistent increases [in some phenomenon] might be due to random reasons which, if true, would [raise] the chance of [subsequent] decrease. Alternatively, persistent decreases might [raise] the chances of [subsequent] increases

Attribution of success and failure: Success is attributed to one’s skills while failures to bad luck, or someone else’ s error. This inhibits learning as it does not allow recognition of one’s mistakes

Optimism, wishful thinking: People’s preferences for future outcomes affect their forecasts of such outcomes

Underestimating uncertainty: Excessive optimism, illusory correlation, and the need to reduce anxiety result in underestimating future uncertainty