Richard Rumelt, in Good Strategy Bad Strategy,makes strategic thinking readily available all. There is a lot of clear thinking here that will enlighten readers. For example, aspiration is not strategy. JFK proposed that we go to the moon in a decade. That was technically possible. Going to Mars is technical available to us as well. However, since Kennedy’s moon shot project people have been confusing aspiration with strategy. The implication is that if we just set goals they will be attained. Rumelt sets the reader straight. Rumelt goes beyond telling readers What they should do to telling the readers HOW to do it. Rumelt strays into military strategy at times and his examples can be a little long for my taste. However, this book is still a worthwhile read. After this book interested readers may want to pickup Joan Magretta’s (2011) Understanding Michael Porter and then tackle Michael Porter’s (1998) Competitive Strategy. A third volume, a favorite of mine, is Henry Mintzberg’s Strategy Safari which introduces the reader to all of the basic schools of strategic planning thought. He makes the argument that there is no such thing as strategy and cognitive scientists just might agree. The reading of Sean Runnette is very good. Enjoy.
Everyone is familiar with Toyota as a brand. Some are aware of the Toyota manufacturing process. Being aware of the process is not being familiar and being familiar does not imply one is conversant with how it really works. Along comes Jeffrey Liker (The Toyota Way) and Gary Convis with The Toyota Way to Lean Leadership filling any gaps in our understanding. Importantly, Liker and Convis use a narrative approach to presenting their material. They use multiple examples and anecdotes to illustrate the concepts they are reporting. Their use of vignettes to describe how lead leadership works, certainly nourishes the reader’s understanding. Readers interested in manufacturing, Japanese culture, leadership, adult education, and other related topics will find this volume most informative. There is no need to be an engineer, Liker and Convis make the topic readily available to the general reader. The narration of Jim Meskimen is very good.
Many of us have well thumbed copies of Michael Porter’s Competitive Strategy. Now Joan Magretta has made his work available to a wider audience with Understanding Michael Porter: The Essential Guide to Competition and Strategy. Think of Magretta’s book as a companion to Michael Porter and you will be right on point. Realistically, Porter’s book is not overly difficult to understand, but it does take study and some background. The strength of Magretta’s work is that Porter’s models become clear immediately. If you have read and understand Michael Porter this book is still valuable for its concise, relevant example and context. Readers from business settings will primarily benefit by this book, but decision makers from the not-for-profit sector will gain from reading this book as well. Read very well by Erik Synnestevdt .
Marty Jacobs consults in the areas of strategic planning, board governance, leadership development, and community engagement.
This book is based on research about organizations that do well despite a constantly changing environment. Since that latter phrase applies to all of us, there is something for everyone in this book. It’s chock of ideas for how organizations and their leaders can ride the wave of uncertainty that seems to be the only constant in organizational life these days. All these ideas come together in what is referred to in the Art of Hosting as “the chaordic path” – the path between chaos and order. An organization that can effectively navigate that path will develop strength and clarity, and the successful journey requires a leader (or leaders) who can discern the nuances between how much order and how much chaos will illuminate the path. It’s a tricky process, and this book highlights this.
That said, I have one caveat to throw in. This book was written by men about men, so it did not always resonate with me. In particular, when the authors describe the characteristics of 10xers, the term they use to describe leaders of these successful organizations, I had to ask, “Whose definition of success? Do these guys have a life?” It seemed to me that the only measurement of success was the bottom line. In this day and age, I truly believe that a more accurate measure of success is the triple bottom line. Organizations can no longer focus solely on profit to the exclusion of social and environmental impact.