You are on page 1of 15

PLANNINGANDLEARNINGSCHOOLS

Runninghead:PLANNINGANDLEARNINGSCHOOLS

PlanningandLearningSchool
Tomas Garcia
Newberry College
Submitted in partial fulfillments of the requirements for
BUA 472- Strategic Management
April 14, 2016

Semester and Year: Spring, 2016


Address: 2100 College Street
City, State, Zip: Newberry, SC 29108
Phone: 631-413-9213
E-mail: Tomas.Garcia@newberry.edu
Instructor: Prof. Gerald Seals

PLANNINGANDLEARNINGSCHOOLS
Abstract
Inthefollowingpapertheauthorwilldefinetheplanningandlearningschoolsasthey
associatethemselveswithstrategicmanagement.Throughtheutilizationofboth
analyticaltoolsandthoroughresearch,theauthorwilldeterminewhethereachschool
fallsundertheprescriptiveordescriptiveapproach.Includedwillbearationaleforthe
authorsdecision.

PLANNINGANDLEARNINGSCHOOLS

PlanningandLearningSchools
ThefollowingpaperwillexaminethePlanningschoolandtheLearningschoolas
theyrelatethemselvestostrategicmanagement,analyzingtheirenvironmentalfactors,
organizationalstructure,designationofleadership,strategiesinherenttoeach,andwhich
approachtomanagementeachiscategorizedunder.
WithinthebookStrategySafariwrittenbyMintzberg,AhlstrandandLampel
(2005),includedaretenschoolsofthoughteachrelatedtothestrategyformulation
processinadditiontothemanagerialfunctionsthatoccurwithinstrategicmanagement.
Eachschoolfeaturedinthebookarecategorizedunderanapproach,thefirstbeing
prescriptiveandthesecondbeingdescriptive.Evidentlythreeofthetenschoolsare
prescriptive,andsevendescriptive.Thedescriptiveapproachtakestheviewthatstrategy
developsandadvancesinresponsetoneedwhereastheprescriptiveapproachviews
strategyasfundamentallylinearandrational.
Anindepthanalyticaloverviewofeachschoolofthoughtintermsofstrategy
succeedsadetailedliteraryreview.Theliteraryreviewprovidesdefinitionsand
explanationsfortermsandconceptsusedfrequentlythroughoutthepaper.Theanalysis
portionofthepaperisheadedbythetwodistinguishableschoolsofthought;firstly,the
planningschoolandsecondly,thelearningschool.Includedintheanalysissection.The
authorwillexamineboththeinternalandexternalenvironmentalfactorsaswellasthe
organizationalresourcesofeachschool.Thefollowondiscussionisbasedonthe
history,originandcomponentsofeachschool.

PLANNINGANDLEARNINGSCHOOLS

Baseduponthepreviouslymentionedtoolsofanalysis,theauthorbelieves
successwithinstrategicmanagementcanbedeterminedbytakingthedescriptive
approachtostrategicmanagement,andprovidesrationaleforheropiniononthematter.
Theessaywillthenconcludewiththeauthorsfindingsandsuggestionsforfurther
research.
LiteratureReviewandDefinitions
BeforetheauthorbeginsheranalysisofthePlanningandLearningschool,itwas
decidedthatafewimportantkeytermsbedefinedpriortoresearch,inordertogain
furtherknowledgeandunderstandingoftheassignment.Tobeginwithconsiderthe
planningschool,whichfallsintotheprescriptivecategoryandhasaconsiderablelinear
andrationalapproachtostrategicmanagement.AccordingtoMerriamWebster(2015)
linearisanythingthatinvolvingasingledimension.RichardLynch(2014)definesthe
prescriptiveapproachtostrategicmanagementasanapproachwhoseobjectiveis
definedinadvanceandwhosemainelementshavebeendevelopedbeforethestrategy
commences.
TofurtherdefinetheprescriptiveapproachconsiderRachelSafrins(2015)
definitionwhichstatesthatthisparticularapproachleavesthedecisionmakingtothe
upperechelons,leavingthesubordinateswithinanorganizationnoroleinthe
management.Inaddition,Lynch(2014)explainstheprescriptiveapproachasastrategy
thatoriginatedfromanalysisgatheredfromtheoutsideenvironment,andtheresources
usedbythecompanyduringanalysisallowforanobjectivetobedeveloped.

PLANNINGANDLEARNINGSCHOOLS

Theplanningschoolsfallsintotheprescriptivegroupingwhichmeansitismore
concernedwithhowstrategiesshouldbeformulated.Anotherfewkeytermsfrequently
usedthroughoutthepaperisstrategicmanagementandstrategy.AccordingtoDess,
LumpkinandTaylor(2005)strategicmanagementconsistsoftheanalysis,decisionsand
actionsanorganizationundertakesinordertocreateandsustaincompetitiveadvantages.
Strategicmanagementinvolvesboththeformulationsandimplementationofgoalstaken
bythetoplevelsofmanagementwithinacompany(Investopedia,2015).Merriam
Webster(2015)definesstrategyas,acarefulplanormethodforachievingaparticular
goalusuallyoveralongperiodoftime.Inaddition,astrategyistheskillofcarryingout
aspecificplaninordertoachieveasetgoal(MerriamWebster,2015).
Thesecondapproachtostrategicmanagementisthedescriptiveapproach,which
believesthatlearningshouldresultfrompastexperiences,andtheopinionsandideasof
theorganizationarevalueddespitethepositionanindividualmayhold(Safrin,2015).
Thelastofthetermstobediscussedwithinthepaperisprescriptiveanddescriptive.
Thesetermsappearfrequentlythroughoutthepaper,astheyareamainfocusofthe
researchbeingconducted.Therefore,prescriptiveisgivingexactrules,directionsor
instructionsabouthowanindividualshoulddosomething(MerriamWebster,2015).In
contrast,descriptivecanbedefinedasthegivingofinformationabouthowsomethingor
someonelooks,sounds;usingwordstodescribesomething(MerriamWebster,2015).
Overview
Withintheirbook,StrategySafari,Mintzberg,AhlstrandandLampel(2005),
discusstenschoolsofstrategy,astheyrelatetostrategicmanagementandthestrategy

PLANNINGANDLEARNINGSCHOOLS

formulationprocess.Eachschoolofthoughisassessed,evaluatedandresearchedinorder
tocategorizethemintoanappropriateapproachtomanagement;thetwoapproachesare
prescriptiveanddescriptive.Thefirstthreeschoolsofthoughtfallundertheprescriptive
approachfortheseschoolsarefocusedsolelyonhowstrategieswithinanorganization
shouldbeformulatedasopposedtohowtheyactuallydoform.Incontrastthelastseven
schoolsofstrategyhaveadescriptiveapproachtothestrategicmanagementprocess
(Mintzberg,AhlstrandandLampel,2005).
PlanningSchool
Thefirstofthetwoschoolsofthoughtdiscussedandanalyzedinthispaperisthe
Planningschool.Thisstrategyismoreformallystructuredthanthedesignschoolbut
embodiesmanyofthesameideas(Mintzberg,Ahlstrand,andLampel,2005).According
toSchloss(2014),thetraditionalplanningschoolwasdesignedinordertotame(linear)
problems,ascontrastedwith'wicked'(nonlinear)problemsthatoccurinsocialsystems.
Theformalstrategicplanningwasahugesuccessforitimplantedinmanagers
mindseverywhereakindofimperativeapproachtotheprocess:thatitwassomething
modernandprogressiveforwhichmanagerscouldonlywishtheyhadmoretime
(Mintzberg,Ahlstrand,andLampel,2005).WithinthePlanningschool,theprocessof
strategyformationsisguidedbyhighlyeducatedplannerswhoareapartofastrategic
planningdepartment,alsobeingprivilegedwithdirectaccesstoanexecutive(Mintzberg,
AhlstrandandLampel,2005).
AccordingtoMintzberg,Ahlstrand,andLampel(2005),Amajorelementofthe
auditoftheorganizationsexternalenvironmentisthesetofforecastsmadeaboutfuture

PLANNINGANDLEARNINGSCHOOLS

conditions.Suchforecastinghasbeenthereasonfortheplannerspreoccupation;an
inabilitytopredictensuresthefailureoftheabilitytoplan(Mintzberg,Ahlstrand,and
Lampel,2005).Undertheplanningschool,thechiefexecutiveofficerholds
responsibilitytoremainthearchitectofstrategyinprincipleandmaintainanorderlyplan
(Mintzberg,AhlstrandandLampel,2005).
Thecentralmessageoftheplanningschooltiesdirectlyintomanagement
education,biggovernmentalpracticesinadditiontobigbusiness:formalprocedure,
formaltraining,formalanalysis,andlastlylotsofnumbers(Mintzberg,Ahlstrand,and
Lampel,2005).Accordingtotheplanningstrategy,thewordobjectivetranslatesto
strategyandimplementsgoalsandorobjectives(Mintzberg,AhlstrandandLampel,
2005).Oncetheobjectivesareset,theassessmentofthenexttwostagesoftheplanning
schoolofboththeinternalandexternalconditionsofanorganizationarevital
(Mintzberg,Ahlstrand,Lampel,2005).
Althoughtherearehundredsofdifferentstrategicmodels,Minztberg,Ahlstrand
andLampel(2005)dividetherethestrategicmanagementprocessideaintofivemain
steps.Thefirstofthefivestepsistheobjectivesettingstage.Withinthisstage,the
planningschooldevelopedextensiveproceduresforexplicatingandquantifyingthegoals
ofanorganization(Mintzberg,AhlstrandandLampel,2005).
Thesecondstageistheexternalauditstage.Onceobjectivesareset,thenext
stageinthestrategicmanagementprocessistoassestheinternalandexternalconditions
ofanorganization(Mintzberg,AhlstandandLampel,2005).AccordingtoMintzberg,
AhlstrandandLampel(2005)amajorelementoftheauditoftheorganizationsexternal

PLANNINGANDLEARNINGSCHOOLS

environmentisthesetofforecastsmadeaboutfutureconditions.Inordertopredictand
prepareforfutureconceivableexternalfactors,achecklistwasproposed,thisallowedfor
techniquestobedeveloped,bothcomplexandsimple(Mintzberg,AhlstrandandLampel,
2005).
ThethirdstageistheinternalauditstageinwhichaSWOTanalysisofa
particularorganizationisperformed,subjectingtotheextensivedecompositionconsistent
withtheplanningapproach(Mintzberg,AhlstrandandLampel,2005).Thefourthstageis
thestrategyevaluationstageinwhichthesignificancelieswithinanorganizations
capacitytocoordinatethetasksperformedbymanagersandtheirsubordinatesthrough
thecontroloverindividualperformance(Mintzberg,AhlstrandandLampel,2005).
Thelastofthefivestagesdiscussedundertheplanningschoolisthestrategy
operationalizationstage.Withinthisstage,planningpreferenceforformalization
becomesmoretightlyconstrained,whileimplementationprovidesthefreedomto
decompose,elaborateandrationalizedownaneverwideninghierarchy(Mintzberg,
AhlstrandandLampel,2005).Theoperationalizationstageallowsforallthebringing
togetherofanorganizationsobjectives,strategiesandprogramsintooneoperating
systemcalledthemasterplan(Mintzberg,AhlstrandandLampel,2005).
Althoughtheplanningschooladoptedmajorityofthepremisesfoundwithinthe
designschool,therearenotabledifferences.Theplanningschoolishighlyformaland
almostmechanicallyprogrammed(Mintzberg,AhlstrandandLampel,2005).Strategic
planningisoftentimesreferredtoasanumbersgameasitrelatestoperformance

PLANNINGANDLEARNINGSCHOOLS

control,andhaslittletodowithactualstrategy(Mintzberg,AhlstrandandLampel,
2005).
Thepremisesthatbuildthefoundationoftheplanningschoolcanbesummarized
intothreemainpoints.Thefirstessentiallythatsthattheproperformulationofstrategy
resultsfromacontrolledandconsciousprocessofformalplanning,whichthenisbroken
downintostep,eachoutlinedbyachecklistandsupportedbyparticulartechniques
implementedwithinanorganization(Mintzberg,AhlstrandandLampel,2005).The
secondpointaddressesthedelegationofresponsibilitywithinanorganization.According
toMintzberg,AhlstrandandLampel(2005)theresponsibilityforoverallprocessesrest
withthechiefexecutiveinprinciple;responsibilityforitsexecutionrestswithstaff
plannersinpractice.Itisonlymembersincludedinthetoplevelsofmanagementthat
holdanydecisionmakingandstrategyformulationresponsibility.
Thethirdmainpointwithinplanningschoolstatesthatstrategiesareapparent
withintheprocessofformalplanningandaretobeexplicitsothattheycanbe
implementedthroughdetailedattentiontoobjectives,budgets,programs,andoperating
plansofvariouskinds.Inshort,theplanningschoolrequirescareful,formalandprecise
planninginorderfortheformulationofstrategytooccur.
LearningSchool
Thesecondofthetwoschoolsofthoughdiscussedandanalyzedinthispaperis
theLearningschool.Thisschoolfocusesonthestrategyformationasanemergent
processwhendealingwithstrategicmanagementandfallsunderthedescriptive
approach.Withinthisstrategy,anorganizationemergesasaresultoftrialanderror

PLANNINGANDLEARNINGSCHOOLS

10

learning.Thisschoolfocusesmainlyonhowstrategiesactuallyformasopposedtohow
theyareformulated(Mintzberg,AhlstrandandLampel,2005).
Peoplewhosometimesactindividuallybutmoreoftenactcollectivelyinorderto
tackleparticularsituationsaswellasanorganizationscapabilityofovercomingthat
obstacleisundertheumbrellaofthelearningschool(Mintzberg,Ahlstrand,andLampel,
2005).Eventuallytheindividualsreachalevelofagreementandsetpatternsofbehavior
thatworkwithintheorganization.Mintzberg,AhlstrandandLampel(2005)state
strategicmanagementbecomesnolongerjustthemanagementsofchangebutthe
managementbychange.Thisstrategycanbetracedbacktoavarietyoflittleactionsand
decisionsmadebydifferentpeopleondifferentlevelsofanorganization,withnothought
oftheirstrategicconsequences(Mintzberg,Ahsltrand,andLampel,2005).
Thesmallchangesmadewithinanorganizationasaresultofthelittleactions
takenplace,oftentimesproducemajorshiftsinthedirectionoftheorganization.Inother
words,informedindividualsanywhereinanorganizationcancontributetothestrategy
process(Mintzberg,Ahlstrand,andLampel,2005).Accordingtothelearningschool,
theconstantintegrationofthesimultaneousincrementalprocessesofstrategyformulation
andimplementationisthecoreofeffectivemanagementaccordingtothelearningschool
(Mintzberg,AhlstrandandLampel,2005).
Thelearningschoolvaluesinsightgainedfromindividualswhohavethe
knowledgeandexperienceinthesubjectmatterismuchmorevaluableandeffective,and
hasbecomeacentralcorevalueoftheschool.Asopposedtosolelyreceivinginsight
fromthehigherupsinanorganizationasseenintheplanningschoolstrategy

PLANNINGANDLEARNINGSCHOOLS

11

formulationprocess.Forexample,Agroupofsalespeopleswhodecidetoflogone
productandnototherstoredirectacompanysmarketpositions,Whobettertoinfluence
strategythatthefootsoldieronthefiringline,closesttotheaction(Mintzberg,
Ahlstrand,andLampel,2005).
Mintzberg,Ahlstrand,andLampel(2005),identifyafewadvantagestothe
learningschool,andtheapproachthisschooltakeswhenformulatingastrategic
managementplan.Theseadvantagesinclude:recognitionthatstrategymustbe
consonantwiththepatternsofbehaviorandresponsethatareinherentwithinan
organization,andrecognitionthatstrategychangesandevolvesovertime;a
counterbalancingforcetotheoveremphasisonrationalitythathasdominatedstrategic
planning(Mintzberg,AhlstrandandLampel,2005).
CompareandContrast
Throughextensiveresearchandanalysistheauthorfoundafewkeydifferences
shownbetweenthelearningschoolandtheplanningschool.Thelearningschoolisan
emergentprocessinregardstoitsstrategyformation,withinthisschool;themanagement
ofanorganizationisresponsibleformonitoringwhatapproachestostrategyworkand
whichdonotoveranextendedperiodoftime.Theemergentprocesswithinthisschool
allowsfortheincorporationofthingscalledlessonslearnedintheoverallplanofaction
ofanorganization(Mintzberg,Ahlstrand,andLampel,2005).Incomparison,the
planningschoolisconsideredaformalprocess,whichfollowsarigoroussetofsteps
fromanalysisofthesituationtothedevelopmentsofexplorationofvariousalternative
scenaris(Mintzberg,Ahlstrand,andLampel,2005).

PLANNINGANDLEARNINGSCHOOLS

12

Anothermajordifferencefoundbetweenthetwoschoolsisthelevelofplanning
andorganization.Thelearningschoolismuchmorelenientinitsapproachtostrategy
andbelievesthatstrategyemergesasaresultoftrialanderror.Incontrast,theplanning
school,whichrequiresachecklist.Thisschooltakesaformalapproachtostrategyin
whicheachstepiscarefullyorganized,analyzedandexamined(Mintzberg,Ahlstrand
andLampel,2005).
Inessence,theplanningschoolandthelearningschoolareoppositeoneanother
intheirapproachtostrategyandtheirstrategicmanagementformulationprocess.

RationaleandOpposingPerspectives
Theauthorchosetoanalyzethetwoschoolsofthoughtinordertostrengthenher
understandingonstrategyandtheformulationprocessofstrategicmanagement.Each
schoolforthoughtdiscussedgavetheauthortheinsightonpossibleapproachesto
strategicmanagementandthewaysinwhichtheapproachesarecomposed.When
choosingthistopictheauthoraimedtofurtherexaminethedifferentstrategiesthatone
canimplementwithinabusinessorganization,whichallowedforhertogainbetter
knowledgeandunderstandingoftheimportantrolethatstrategicmanagementplaysina
business.Afterpublishingtheirbook,Minzberg,Ahlstrand,andLampel(2005)received
muchcriticism.
Mintzebrg,AhlstrandandLampel(2005)addressthesevendeadlysinsof
strategicplanning,whichheavilycriticizestheplanningschool.Criticsclaimedthat

PLANNINGANDLEARNINGSCHOOLS

13

withintheplanningschool:thestaffovertooktheprocess,theprocessdominatedthe
staff,planningsystemswerevirtuallydesignedtoproducenoresults,planningfocused
onthemoreexcitingmergers,achievementsanddivestureswereobtainedattheexpense
ofthecorebusinessdevelopment,theplanningprocessfailedtodeveloptruestrategy
choices,planningignoredtheorganizationalandculturalrequirementofstrategyand
lastly,thesinglepointforecastingwasinappropriatebasisforplanninginatimeof
uncertainty(Mintzberg,AhlstrandandLampel,2005).
Inaddition,heavycriticismwasalsoplaceduponthelearningschoolaswell.
AccordingtoMinzberg,Ahlstrand,andLampel(2005),criticsarguedthethoughtthat
withinthelearningschoolthereisadangerthreateningalackofurgency,andalackof
discipline,whichmayresultinalackofsignificantchangesbeingmadewithinan
organization.
ConclusionandRecommendations
Intheprecedingpapertheauthorexaminedtheplanningschoolandthelearning
schoolastheyrelatethemselvestostrategicmanagement,analyzingtheirenvironmental
factors,organizationalstructure,designationofleadership,strategiesinherenttoeach,
andwhichapproachtomanagementeachiscategorizedunder.Theauthorfocusedthe
analysissectionontheinternalandexternalenvironmentalfactorswithineachschoolof
thought.Throughtheseanalyticaltoolstheauthorwasablemakedistinctcomparisons
betweenthetwoschools,concludingthattheplanningandlearningschoolareopposite
oneanother.

PLANNINGANDLEARNINGSCHOOLS

14

Astheauthorsdiscussionpointedout,theplanningschoolfallsunderthe
prescriptiveapproach,whereasthelearningschoolscategorizeitselfunderthedescriptive
approach.Althoughtheresearchprovidedwasinformativeandsupportedtheauthors
rationale,itwasconsiderablyinadequateasthereisstillsomuchtolearnabouteachof
theseschoolsofthoughtfeaturedinStrategySafari.Therefore,itissuggestedthatmore
indepthresearchbeconductedandpursuedinordertogainfurtherunderstandingand
stipulationonthisissue.

References
Dess,G.,Lumpkin,T.,Taylor,M.(2005).StrategicManagement,NewYork:McGraw
HillIrwin.
Investopedia.(2015).Strategicmanagementdefinition.Retrievedfrom
www.investopedia.com/terms/strategic_management
Lynch,R.(2014).WhatisStrategicManagement?Retrievedfromwww.global
strategy.net/whatisstrategicmanagement/
MerriamWebster.(2015).Descriptivedefinition.Retrievedfromwww.merriam
webster.com/dictionary/descriptive
MerriamWebster.(2015).Lineardefinition.Retrievedfromwww.merriam

PLANNINGANDLEARNINGSCHOOLS

15

webster.com/dictionary/linear
MerriamWebster.(2015).Prescriptivedefinition.Retrievedfromwww.merriam
webster.com/dictionary/prescriptive
MerriamWebster.(2015).Strategydefinition.Retrievedfromwww.merriam
webster.com/dictionary/strategy
Mintzberg,H.,Ahlstrand,B.,Lampel,J.(2005)Strategysafari:Aguidedtourthrough
thewildsofstrategicmanagement,NewYork,NY:FreePress.
Safrin,R.(2015).ComparisonofPrescriptiveandDescriptiveStrategic
Management.Retrievedfromwww.smallbusiness.chron.com
Schloss,E.P.(2014).Adynamicframeworkforplanningundersimple,complicated,and
complexconditions.Emergence:ComplexityandOrganization,16(2),93110.