Based on an acclaimed professor's legendary strategy course at Harvard Business School, The Strategist offers a radically new perspective on a leader's most vital role.
"Are you a strategist?" That's the first question Cynthia Montgomery asks the business owners and senior executives from all over the world who participate in her highly regarded executive education course. It's not a question they anticipate or care much about on opening day. But by the time the program ends, they cannot imagine leading their companies to success without being - and living the role of - a strategist.
Over a series of weeks and months, Montgomery puts these accomplished executives through their paces. Using case discussions, after-hours talks, and participants' own strategy dilemmas, she illuminates what strategy is, why it's important, and what it takes to lead the effort. En route, she equips them to confront the most essential question facing every business leader: Does this company truly matter? In doing so, she shows that strategy is not just a tool for outwitting the competition; it is the most powerful means a leader has for shaping a company itself.
The Strategist exposes all business leaders - whether they run a global enterprise or a small business - to the invaluable insights Montgomery shares with these privileged executives. By distilling the experiences and insights gleaned in the classroom, Montgomery helps leaders develop the skills and sensibilities they need to become strategists themselves. It is a difficult role, but little else one does as a leader is likely to matter more.
©2012 Cynthia A. Montgomery (P)2012 HarperCollinsPublishers
What I liked about this book: It brings interesting examples of strategy driven business turnarounds. The author presents the "Strategy Wheel" which is a simple and straightforward framework for aligning functional areas to the company's central strategic purpose. (Can be used as a complement to Porter's Value Chain)
What I didn't like about this book: In my opinion this is a book for people who are not yet very familiar with the Business Strategy concepts. If you have read Michael Porter's books or "The Blue ocean Strategy", you may get bored.
The narrator is too slow, even for a non native english speaker
Recommended: Understanding Michael Porter (Magretta)
I found the book very slow without enough meaty content. There were some good points but they were too few and the examples were terribly drawn out. The content seemed repetitive and the history of Apple computer seemed like yet another review with little additional insight and frankly seemed like filler material.For me, the dramatic, soft tone of the narration didn't fit with the content (and it is not because she is female). It lacked a certain business energy that may have made the drawn out book seem even slower. Made me wish I was reading it. I was looking for an insightful, educational book on strategy. This wasn't it.
Not if it is a business book. She is probably great with fiction.
There were some good points that made me think but they were too few and far between.
Don't be fooled by some of the reviews that say this is nothing more than the basic MBA material or simply a book on Strategy. Cynthia Montgomery has captured the very essence of what is required to move a business to the next level and while it might be based on years of teaching and research at Harvard Business School it the message that underlies each story, tool and technique that is missed by the majority of MBA students.
The book has a very easy to follow and great style. Analogies are well thought through, develop into the teaching method nicely and follow the case-in-point style of learning. In fact I found myself often relating each of the examples back to my own business and realising where the fundamentals of the business need to be worked on. But back to the book...the message is relatively simple:
- Have a clear, well defined and meaningful purpose;
- Create alignment within the business;
- Understand the fundamentals that drive success with in alignment with the purpose;
- Remember that strategy development start on day 1 and never ends...there is simply no end point where strategy is 'completed'.
The wrap up of the book is simple...to be a strategist you must first be a leader...strategy never ends, it is a continuous cycle process where we have a core purpose, a driving forces, a reason for living and we consider how that reason changes the world. This makes it easy to change, adapt and move through the challenges that a competitive landscape offers. From Gucci to IKEA, both businesses had their fair share of challenges and issues...but the ever evolving art of strategy lead them through to be the businesses they are today. Often thanks to the leadership but always thanks to the purpose!
So yes...this appears to be MBA 101 but think about it...how many MBA graduates do you know that would not land a job in your business, be able to lead and develop a business to great heights or simply are text book managers but not strategic leaders. The Strategist is aimed squarely at anyone that thinks they know all about strategy because they have an MBA...after all many great strategist do not have an MBA yet we teach their thinking and refer to their success in many MBA classes. This is a great book and yes...I have an MBA and still found myself in awe of the author, the approach and the learnings I took out of this book.
A must read for every business person and one that I am sharing with my Leadership Team!
Short, sound content. Just enough case histories to apply the method outlined in the book.
The only other strategy book that is this valuable, is Blue Ocean Strategy - at least the first half. This one is much easier to apply.
Better at 1.5x
If you are looking for a business book on strategy that will be of value - that is, sound and directly applicable, then this is the book for you. You'll want to own it in hardback, too, after you listen to it. Worth your time.
Must read for any entrepreneur looking for some focus and action!
Real-life examples, case studies.
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