Mintzberg and Waters have drawn a distinction between deliberate strategies and emergent strategies. In practice, strategies are partly deliberate and partly emergent, in a mix determined by:
- how precise, concrete and explicit the intentions of the organisation's leadership and other groups are, and how widely they are shared
- how pervasive and firm central control over organisational actions is
- how benign, controllable and predictable the organisation's external environment is.
- planned - precise intentions backed by formal implementation controls
- entrepreneurial - originating in the personal vision of a single leader
- ideological - originating in shared beliefs and collective vision
- umbrella - leadership defines strategic boundaries or targets within which others respond
- process - leadership controls process aspects of strategy leaving content to others
- unconnected - strategies originate in enclaves
- consensus - mutual adjustment produces converging patterns that become pervasive
- imposed - strategies originate in the environment, producing limited organisational choice, possibly becoming internalised
Reference source: Mintzberg, H. and Waters, J. A. (1985) "Of Strategies, Deliberate and Emergent", Strategic Management Journal, Vol. 6, p. 257-72
Evolution provides a good example of emergent strategy. There is no active design process or designer, yet evolution has bee an extraordinarily effective strategy for those species that have survived.