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The Fall and Rise of
Strategic Planning
by Henry Mintzberg
Harvard Business Review
Reprint 94107
HarvardBusinessReview
JANUARY-FEBRUARY 1994
Reprint Number
ROBERT H. HAYES
AND GARY P. PISANO
NANCY A. NICHOLS
BEYOND WORLD CLASS:
THE NEW MANUFACTURING STRATEGY
SCIENTIFIC MANAGEMENT AT MERCK:
AN INTERVIEW WITH CFO JUDY LEWENT
MANAGING INNOVATION IN THE INFORMATION AGE
THE FALL ANDRISE OF STRATEGIC PLANNING
SPEND A DAY IN THE LIFE OF YOUR CUSTOMERS
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE TAKE-CHARGE MANAGER?
INSTITUTIONAL INVESTORS: THE RELUCTANT ACTIVISTS
HBR CASE STUDY
THE EXPECTANT EXECUTIVE AND THE
ENDANGERD PROMOTION
PERSPECTIVES
TAKING ACCOUNT OF STOCK OPTIONS
IN QUESTION
WHAT IS BUSINESS’S SOCIAL COMPACT?
WORLD VIEW
IT’S TIME TO MAKE PEACE WITH IRAN
FIRST PERSON
WHY MYFORMER EMPLOYEES STILL WORK FOR ME
94104
94106
REBECCA HENDERSON
HENRY MINTZBERG
F. GOUILLART AND F. STURDIVANT
N. NOHRIA AND J.D. BERKLEY
ROBERT C. POZEN
94105
94107
94103
94109
94111
CINDEE MOCK
AND ANDREA BRUNO
94108
94110
BERNARD AVISHAI
94102
HOSSEIN ASKARI
94101
RICARDO SEMLER
94112
Planners shouldn’t create strategies, but they can supply data,
help managers thinkstrategically, and program the vision.
by Henry Mintzberg
When strategic planning arrived on the scene in
the mid-1960s, corporate leaders embraced it as
“the one best way” to devise and implement strate-
gies that would enhance the competitiveness of
each business unit. True to the scientific manage-
ment pioneered by Frederick Taylor, this one best
way involved separating thinking fromdoing and
creating a new function staffed by specialists: stra-
tegic planners. Planning systems were expected to
planning often spoils strategic thinking, causing
managers to confuse real vision with the manipula-
tion of numbers. And this confusion lies at the
heart of the issue: the most successful strategies are
visions, not plans.
Strategic planning, as it has been practiced, hasreally been strategic programming, the articulation
and elaboration of strategies, or visions, that al-
ready exist. When companies understand the differ-
ence between planning and strategic
thinking, they can get back to what
the strategy-making process should
be: capturing what the manager
learns from allsources (both the soft
insights from his or her personal ex-
periences and the experiences of
others throughout the organization
and the hard data from market re-
search and the like) and then synthesizing that
learning into a vision of the direction that the busi-
ness should pursue.
Henry Mintzberg is professor of management atMcGill
University in Montreal, Quebec, and visiting professor
at INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France. This article, his
fifth contribution to HBR, is adapted from his latest
book, The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning (Free Press
and Prentice Hall International, 1994).
1993 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved.
Strategic planning isn’t strategic
thinking. Oneis analysis,
and the other is synthesis.
produce the best strategies as well as step-by-step
instructions for carrying out those strategies so that
the doers, the managers of businesses, could not get
them wrong. As we now know, planning has not ex-
actly worked out that way.
While certainly not dead, strategic planning has
long since fallen from its pedestal. But even now,
few peoplefully understand the reason: strategic
planning is not strategic thinking. Indeed, strategic
HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW
January-February 1994
Copyright
STRATEGIC PLANNING
Organizations disenchanted with strategic plan-
ning should not get rid of their planners or conclude
that there is no need for programming. Rather, orga-
nizations should transform the conventional plan-
Planners...
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