The Design and Positioning Schools of Strategy

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Sadler & Craig (2003) describe strategy as a long duration action plan, drafted for achieving defined objectives. In Greek language, strategy pertains to the act of leading an army. Different types of strategies, developed for resolving day-to-day challenges, form part of the strategic management process.

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Business organizations have always been at the crossroads of options over the fundamental strategic decisions. Corporate think tanks spend major amounts of their quality time in debating about the decisions on the forward outlook of the organization. The decisions to adopt an appropriate short and long term strategy for an organization had always been debatable. The point of debate had been focused on whether the adopted strategy would result in enhancing the shareholder value, as it is fundamental to the existence of an organization. It has been observed that the shareholder value is a function of revenues being generated by the organization. Thus, the strategists need to worry about whether the organization makes efforts to reducing the bottom-line vis-à-vis increasing the top line? These questions have never been easy to answer and the dynamic business environment has further complicated the decision making. No amount of tactical decision making can resolve these fundamental dilemmas. Instead, appropriate strategic thinking can enable the top leadership in determining the steer they want to provide to the organization (Davenport, Leibold, & Voelpel, 2006). Mintzberg, Henry, Lampel, Joseph, & Ahlstrand, Bruce (1998) explained ten business strategies, including design and positioning schools in Strategy Safari. The following text focuses on these two schools of thoughts in the business strategies. Basic details of each school of strategy is followed by a discussion on the roots of each of the strategies, risks, uncertainty & its management, influence of market structure and the environments. The analysis concludes with the comparison between these two schools of strategic thoughts.

Design School of Strategy

According to the design school, the strategy is described as a series of varied operations, executed to achieve the fit between the internal capabilities and external possibilities of an organization. The design school believes that the managerial values of the people leaders and the social responsibilities are two important factors in determining the strategy for any organization (Sloan, 2006). Thus, as per the design school, the preferences and the beliefs of the people leading the organization and the perceived ethics of the environment in which the organization operates are important contributors to determine the strategic intent of any organization. In the design school of strategy, after the various alternative strategies have been determined, the next step is to evaluate and make a choice on the best one. The implementation of the strategic action plan is subject to the agreement of all stakeholders on the final strategy.

Roots of Design School

Mintzberg et al.

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