Report on the Mintzberg's article in the Harvard Business Review about the fall and the rise of strategic planning.

Essay by martzinCollege, UndergraduateB+, May 2006

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Mintzberg provides one of the best--albeit cynical--views of planning in American organizations. His cynicism may be well directed, however, in that he presents ample evidence that most organizations and organizational planners enter into planning with little understanding of the definitions and various purposes of planning.

He provides a range--from broad to narrow--of definitions for planning, including; (1) planning is future thinking; (2) planning is controlling the future; (3) planning is decision making; (4) planning is integrated decision making; (5) planning is a formalized procedure to produce an articulated result, in the form of an integrated system of decisions.

Within the fifth definition lies the root, Mintzberg suggests, for the emergence of a sense of rationality about planning. In this case, rational planning implies an ability to (1) know attributes of the future; (2) accurately assess the strengths and weaknesses of the organization; and (3) manage a change process that better aligns the organization with the anticipated future.

For Mintzberg, organizations seldom accomplish all three simultaneously.

Again, Mintzberg finds a range of reasons for planning, most of which he suggests are really reasons planners suggest for planning: (1) organizations must plan to coordinate their activities; (2) organizations must plan to ensure that the future is taken into account (including preparing for the inevitable, preempting the undesirable, and controlling the controllable); (3) organizations must plan to be "rational;" and (4) organizations must plan to control.

For Mintzberg strategy is a word that we define differently than we practice. For many, the definition of strategy is "a plan," but in actuality strategy appears as a pattern that blends intended responses with responses that emerge out of the changing environment. Strategy may appear as a plan to some, but to others the term is used to describe a position. For others, strategy implies a...