3 Strategy books you can’t afford NOT to read!

2013 saw the release of a number of excellent strategy books. With many organisations now busy planning strategically for 2014 and beyond, I’d like to share three insightful and refreshing titles with you…

1.    Playing to Win – How strategy really works: By A.G. Lafley, Chairman and CEO of Procter and Gamble and Roger L. Martin, Dean of the Rotman School of Management.

These two giants of industry indicate that Strategy is “a coordinated integrated set of five choices: A winning aspiration, where to play, how to win, core capabilities and management systems”. These five choices are applied/compared to Procter and Gamble’s phenomenal growth. This easy to read book is very practical and the principles can be applied immediately.

2.    The Clarity Principle – How great leaders make the most important decisions in business (and what happens if they don’t) by Chatham Sullivan, an organisational psychologist at Pivot, a strategic leadership consultancy and past lecturer at Wharton School of Business and the School of Social Policy at the University of Pennsylvania.

Establishing clarity around the purpose of the organisation is a critical task of leadership. A business can be one thing or another but will invariably suffer when it tries to be too many things at once. An organisation pulled amongst competing purposes, risks discord, fragmentation, and inefficiency.

From time to time the purpose of the organisation has to be redefined which is very different to stitching together conflicting business models. “Purpose gives the organisation life force and motive”. Sullivan points out that clarity in business comes from courage to choose!

3.    The End of competitive Advantage by Prof Rita Gunther McGrath, at Columbia Business School and globally recognised as an expert on Strategy in uncertain and volatile environments.

Its clear that the disparate fields of competitive strategy, innovation and organisational change is now all coming together (which causes a growing gap between traditional approaches to strategy and the real world). McGrath stresses that companies move from sustainable competitive advantage to temporary transient advantage. This calls for continuous reconfiguration and managing the paradox of stability and agility. There should be fluidity in the allocation of talent and a willingness to disengage from a market, product or service when required. Which means ending advantages frequently, formally and systematically. Exits should occur in a steady rhythm. It’s also important to “Build an innovation proficiency”. One that invites a conversation that candidly questions the status quo. This is an excellently written book which should be core reading for every senior executive.

Incidentally, in line with these strategic thoughts and approaches, Knowledge Resources will host a 2 day conference on Strategy for Growth on the 5th and 6th of November at the Hyatt Regency in Johannesburg. Amongst others, Prof Walter Baets, Director: Graduate School of Business, University of Cape Town will address the issue whether traditional strategic approaches are still appropriate in this fast changing environment. The theme is on Strategising for Growth. Our economy is sluggish; however companies need to plan for increased growth. There is no other option as Tom Peters once remarked “No one can shrink to greatness”.

For more information and other details for the 3 strategy books, contact Knowledge Resources at orders@knowres.co.za and for the Strategy for Growth conference; contact Gugu Mazibuko on 011 706 6009 or gugum@knowres.co.za or click here now.


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