Mintzberg’s 5Ps of Strategy

Henry Mintzberg suggests there are five ways in which the term ‘strategy’ is used. These are called his ‘5Ps for Strategy’. Strategy can mean any of the following:


  1. Plan
  2. Ploy
  3. Pattern
  4. Position
  5. Perspective

Let’s look at these in a little more detail.

1. Strategy as Plan

In this definition, Mintzberg notes a strategy is an intended, or consciously followed course of action. The strategy is made in advance of its implementation and is followed up by actual implementation and development. This can also be called ‘deliberate strategy’.

2. Strategy as Ploy

A ‘ploy’ is usually a manoeuvre in a competition or a game, one that is taken to get the better of your competitor. A ploy takes advantage of opportunities that arise. Ploys are usually undertaken to deter cometitors from entering the market, for example by building new facilities with plenty capacity, or lowering prices.

3. Strategy as Pattern

Strategy should also be considered in terms of strategic outcomes. Strategies can be planned, but the outcome may not be what was expected. In some cases it may be possible to look back at what has happened, and describe a company’s strategy in terms of a pattern that emerged.

4. Strategy as Position

Strategy is intended to locate or fit a business within its environment, and deciding on what position to adopt (e.g. within markets). A position may be a niche, providing low cost or distinctive products, or by exploiting competences to deter others in the market.

5. Strategy as Perspective

Finally, strategy can be defined in terms of the corporate personality and culture a company has adopted over time. Strategy is the way a company views itself in the world, through the eyes of its management and employees. This can refer to organisation culture.


Keep in mind, these 5Ps are not mutually exclusive. They can and often do complement each other. Hopefully these will be useful for your ACCA P3 notes.