- Born in Vladivostok, Russia.
- Emigrated to the US.
- Joined the Rand Corporation.
- Worked at Lockheed Aircraft Corporation.
- Published article on “Strategies for Diversification”.
- Appointed Professor of Industrial Administration at the Carnegie Institute of Technology.
- Publication of Corporate Strategy.
- Appointed Founding Dean and Professor of Management at Vanderbilt University.
- Appointed Professor at the European Institute for Advanced Studies in Management.
- Appointed Professor at the Stockholm School of Economics.
- Publication of Strategic Management.
- Appointed Professor at the United States International University (USIU).
- Publication of Implementing Strategic Management.
- Retired from academic life.
- Named Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the USIU.
- Died in San Diego, California.
Life and Career
Igor Ansoff was a mathematician, university professor, and business consultant. After studying general engineering at the Stevens Institute of Technology, and receiving a PhD in Applied Mathematics from Brown University, he joined the UCLA Senior Executive Program. During World War II he was a member of the US Naval Reserve, serving as liaison with the Russian navy and as an Instructor in Physics at the US Naval Academy. After the war, he worked at the Rand Corporation before moving to Lockheed, where he went on to become Vice-President of Plans and Programs, and then Vice-President and General Manager of the Industrial Technology division. He was a professor at the United States International University and acted as consultant for many multinational corporations, such as Philips, General Electric, and IBM.
Igor Ansoff helped define corporate strategy and planning as a management activity in its own right; before him, strategic analysis was based purely around budget projections.
He explored how an organization needed to anticipate future challenges in developing strategy, and put in place a strategic response to counter these challenges.
He also researched how an organization should focus on core capability, as this ensures a link between its past and future activities.
He originated the phrase “paralysis by analysis” to describe how excessive planning can impede practical action.
He argued that a company should not just be self-serving, as this will lead to stagnation; he proposed that long-term profitability results from an understanding of the context in which it operates.
He developed the Ansoff Matrix, or “product-mission matrix”, to analyse the risk component in different growth strategies.
There are four strategies in the Matrix: market penetration, market expansion, product expansion, and diversification–these help track strategies for growth through existing or new products, in existing or new markets.
He focuses on diversification–he saw it as transforming previous processes and traditions, and necessitating careful planning and analysis, and the development of new skills, techniques, and resources.
In Strategic Management he discussed strategic planning as a multidisciplinary system, which should integrate individual and group dynamics, as well as political processes and organizational culture.
The issue of turbulence is central to Ansoff’s thinking on strategy–in Strategic Management he developed a framework for strategy formulation to assist planning in the post-war economy of the US.
He also discussed what he saw as the five “turbulence levels” in a business environment: repetitive, expanding, changing, discontinuous, and surprising—as well as the standard types of organizational decision: strategy, policy, programs, and standard operating procedures.
He developed a new classification of decision-making which became known as Strategy-Structure-Systems, or the 3S model.
“Structure will become a dynamic enabler of both change and unchanged, the ultimate model of organizational chaos.”