Porter strategy

Porter’s definition of strategy is normative, not descriptive. That is, it distinguishes a good strategy from a bad one. His focus is on content, not process. His focus is on where you want to be, not on the decision-making process by which you got there—not how, or even whether, you do formal strategic planning, nor whether your strategy can be captured in fifty words or less.

Joan Magretta – Understanding Michael Porter

Strategy development is a design process. Porter’s work implies a lot of this with his focus on the ‘design’ of the resulting business model; it’s fit, coherence, focus, trade-offs. But he leaves open the question of ‘how is strategy created’ and this is where design theory is useful.

This is a gap in the strategy literature – being relatively underdeveloped and lacking a central figure in the same way Porter dominates ‘strategy as content’. If you move from Mintzbert/Liedtka/Martin (strategy development as design process) to Rumelt (strategy as diagnosis, guiding policy, coherent actions) to Porter (attributes of a good strategy in market) you have a pretty good foundation, but there is opportunity to build a much better understanding of the first area.


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