Working Draft

This site is currently a working draft of the ITABoK 3.0. Release date is planned for beginning of 2018. In the meantime please utilize the current ITABoK version 2.0 


Strategy are common terms used in the ITABoK to describe a set of concepts which relate to the how strategy and its associated methods for execution and use form a part of an overall Architecture capability.

Strategy as a practice’ has had many differing academic viewpoints, with many differing views over the years. The following looks at summarizing how ‘Strategy as a practice’ can be used to help understand differing approaches. Understanding how strategy can both constrain (if it’s done ineffectively or not executed upon) and yet at the same time enable a business is an important consideration for all those looking to understand strategy and considering the many differing approaches to strategy.

There are many challenges at the individual and organizational level when it comes to defining strategy, these include communication, clarity of communication, receptive audience, and scope of communication during its creation and adoption, appropriateness as well as the ability to execute on the defined strategy. These challenges are often magnified by individual perception of what strategy is and how it can be used effectively to support both the desire and need for organizational growth. When comparing methods, it is clear whilst organizations face the same challenges imposed when practicing and considering strategy, most have similarities with regards to inclusion of all organizational interested parties in the strategy setting and communication process.

When examining the application of applied principles such as Mintzbergs Five P’s [Minztberg. H, 1996] that investigates how Plan, Ploy, Pattern, Position and Perspective have an impact on the perspective of how strategy is determined, it is notable that whilst, what may seem like an intended consideration of a single P, it is often the case after a little further analysis the initial consideration could have been easily of been substituted for another or in fact that multiple Ps were applied in an intentional or unintentional manner. Each of the five P’s allows us to compare and contrast the ‘How’ and behavior of the individual consideration on strategy setting but not always the why, for example in Ploy, it is often difficult to understand all the implications of strategy when ploy is leveraged in the strategy setting process, due to its normally sensitive commercial implications and/or whether its intent was tactical or strategic in nature. Each of the five P’s allows us, as observers, in the strategy setting cycle an insight of the perceptions used to create a strategy for each organization. This in comparison to Whittington’s Three P’s of Practitioners, Practices and Praxis, where, when applying the practioner P of the Three P’s it was clear that there are differing approaches to how strategy should be practiced (leading us into the practice element) where it is believed that inclusion of all stakeholders in setting strategy but not necessarily mandating clarity on how they are involved in its execution. One consideration that I felt was missing from both Mintzbergs 5Ps and also Whittington’s three Ps, was the P for the People element and the P for Strategy through Performance (although not one of Mintzbergs or Whittington’s 5 Ps an interesting concept that has been realized by other organizations in the strategy setting process. Danaher Systems as an example and its use of P referring to people and performance in the strategic setting nature of their DBS systems, [Danaher Systems, Harvard Business School Rev April 15th 2011 ]), both organizations had recognized people as a strategic tool that enables the execution of strategy albeit at differing involvement levels but the people element had be considered under the Pattern P element of Mintzbergs Five Ps. Whilst both statements above summarize the differences in approach they could also be expanded to consider the other of Mintzbergs 5 P’s such as strategy as the perspective, if the fifth definition of the 5 Ps is to be believed then both individuals seems to have been driving towards a collective mind share and common belief in uniting the collective minds of their respective organizations. Additionally, the umbrella strategy seems to align to both individuals deliberate strategy method in that leadership defines the strategic targets or boundaries although executed in different ways.

In conclusion, there are many factors and many considerations for understanding the comparisons and contrasts between how organizations approach strategy. Each organization will continue to develop, grow, and adapt their strategies based on the ever changing business landscapes, companies will be driven by their own respective agenda such as Corporate social responsibility, using  ‘Strategy as practice’ methods to see just how successful the companies have been in the strategy setting process in years to come, with consideration and the need for eclecticism and understanding that whichever definitions of strategy we use to compare and contrast the process of strategy setting will offer us insight, value, patterns of best and current proven practice as well as a glimpse that not all definitions or implementations, will transpire to offer the ‘same’ or even consistent results in the same manner for each and every organization we examine.

Strategy tools and methods are an important to the Architects tool-bag, with a myriad of well researched and applied approaches to both understand the setting of strategic driver and more importantly the methods on which to execute them.