The Summer 2015 issue of Strategy Magazine, our acclaimed publication dedicated to helping practitioners improve their strategy formulation and implementation, is now available.
This issue’s central theme is strategy execution and how to deliver better results.
Members can click here to find out more about the latest issue and download their copy.
Edited by Charles Style, Nicholas Beale and David Ellery
Few areas are more strategic than war – the word ‘strategy’ has its roots in the ancient Greek for ‘general’ (strategos). Warfare’s lessons for modern strategy are updated in a new book from Gower – In Business and Battle.
The UK’s Royal College of Defence Studies’ (RCDS) annual programme unites senior personnel from around the world who are preparing for the highest responsibilities in civilian and military spheres.
Each year, representatives of some 50 countries share on average more than 1,000 years of experience in some of the most complex and demanding environments on earth. In Business and Battle is the synthesis of the expert analysis and experience of participants in that programme, tested and sharpened by extensive international fieldwork, and coupled with contributions by first-rate presenters. It deals with strategy and top level strategic leadership together and views them from multinational, multicultural and multisectoral perspectives. In so doing, the book pushes the boundaries beyond a mere description of commercial, civilian and military strategic environments; it provides extensive and deep insights into how to interpret and shape those environments.
“This book … has salutary lessons for those who run armies and those who run companies and even countries,” says Lord Robertson of Port Ellen.
Andrew Hill of the Financial Times, points out that modern military alliances “have to be, if anything, more complex, more collaborative and more adaptable than many business combinations”.
Navigating Public Policy Making
By Tuomo Kuosa
Strategic foresight is traditionally associated with the military and politics. In his book, Tuomo Kuosa goes beyond this, developing a method of generating analyses of alternative futures and strategies, based on available intelligence and foreknowledge.
This practice can be applied to companies, business sectors, national and trans-national agencies of all descriptions, and to all aspects of public policy making.
In The Evolution of Strategic Foresight the author uses examples from 30 countries, involving key experts in the field, to illustrate the theory underpinning the employment of strategic foresight. Its practice is explained in terms of structure, process, and knowledge domains. Methodologies and systems are examined, along with how strategic foresight can be used to produce better knowledge and be more effectively linked to policy making.
Kuosa’s findings are invaluable to scholars, students, long-range, public policy and urban planners, analysts, risk assessment experts, and consultants, managers and decision makers.
SPS members enjoy a 25% discount on all Gower books bought online. Please visit our offers page to find out more.
This month’s the book of the month, penned by SPS Fellow Kim Warren, is a wake-up call for many in the strategy community. The Trouble with Strategy has much to teach consultants, business schools and, yes, even the SPS. Warren’s controversial book compels strategists to ask some searching questions. Continue Reading…
In The Focused Organization Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez shows how fewer, more effectively elected and managed projects are the key to strategic and long-term success. Using his own research and work experience he explains how and why those organisations that focus on just a few key initiatives can perform significantly better than unfocused organisations, not only financially but also in achieving their strategic objectives and motivating their staff. Continue Reading…
Max McKeown, author, consultant and popular speaker in the strategy field, shares his thoughts on the importance of strategy and the relevance of his new book.
McKeown has a PhD and MBA with a speciality in strategy and strategic change. His clients sit across multiple sectors including Microsoft, Virgin, Sun International, 2012 Olympics, Toyota and TopShop. He is the author of several books including E-Customer, Why They Don’t Buy, Unshrink and The Truth about Innovation.
Why do you think strategy is important?
Strategy is about shaping the future. Great strategy is the shortest effective distance between ends and means. In the second decade of a new millennium, this seems particularly urgent because we’ve experienced what has felt like crisis after crisis, disaster after disaster, attack after attack. It’s never been more important to understand the best ways of creating a better future. Systems have failed to live up to expectations of perpetual growth and prosperity. Governments and businesses understand that there is a problem, they may even understand that they would like to solve the problem, but this is not the same as understanding how to get from where they are to where they want to be. This is the function of strategy.
We have been trying to shape our future for as long as we have been human. Along the way we’ve picked up some enduring principles about how to do that better – from the political writings of Machiavelli to the art of war espoused by Sun Tzu to the research of Ansoff, Chandler, Porter or Mintzberg. You don’t need to get an MBA or a doctorate but it’s helpful to be informed. And it’s very helpful to understand better how the creative and analytical sides of strategy work, and how they can work together to achieve exceptional results.
Why do you think a gap between strategy as an academic discipline and strategy in business has developed? What can be done to close the gap?
There are more than two camps in strategy. There is considerable research conducted into strategy that is not intended to directly inform the work of the strategist. This is not a failing of the research: social scientists shouldn’t have to justify their work based on how useful it appears to be in its raw, academic form – that’s not its purpose. And it’s not the problem either.
The problem is that there is not enough focus on improving strategy in the real world. The problem is that strategy has become divorced from leadership and entrepreneurship. Strategy has become separated from imagination and creativity. Leaders are impatient with the layers upon layers of models and flowcharts that get in the way of them actually doing strategy. They don’t want to read 1,000 page textbooks or academic journals. They don’t want out-of-date advice. They don’t want codified knowledge banks. They don’t want to work with cults that believe in the magical power of a few models. They want fast, effective, powerful help to shape their future.
What are your thoughts on the SPS professionalising strategy agenda?
My support for professionalising depends on what is meant by the term. If the focus is on practical ways of creating better strategic thinkers, that’s a good thing. If the focus is on compartmentalising the most obvious information about strategy and turning it into a set of anti-imaginative hurdles and cookie-cutter templates, then I’m against it. The language of the effective strategist is to the point. The language of the ineffective strategy consultant is flowery, grey and dull. Great strategy requires non-obvious answers to obvious questions. It’s not about nonsensical distinctions between mission, visions and goals.
There are strategy tools and processes that can help but the real heart of strategy is the strategist. It’s what you know, how you think and how you get people to care enough about what you are doing to help you get where you want to go. It’s about setting in motion a sequence of events that will shape the future in a way you like. People use strategy to get a lot of what they have. They get a job. They get an education to get a job. They save money for a holiday or a home. They used strategies to romance their partners, wives or husbands. It’s important that strategy stays powerful and effective in the real world.
How do these issues fit in with the content of your latest books?
The Strategy Book has its own competitive advantage: it’s easy to read without dumbing down its strategic ideas. It’s simple to use but is still based on a core set of intelligent strategic foundations. It offers clear explanations of tools and concepts that will help make sense of complex leadership situations. My next book, Adaptability, expands on these ideas, exploring how all success is successful adaptation.
The ideas in The Strategy Book are also based on hard-won experience and knowledge. I’ve worked with some of the most admired and most ambitious companies in the world. This real world experience is built into the book. Some of those companies are facing problems and crisis points. All of them wanted success. They wanted to move from where they were to somewhere better. The Strategy Book helps with all of those situations. It’s been designed to help people to become better strategic thinkers. And because strategic thinking is the difference between good managers and great leaders, these new skills will help any reader to shape their future deliberately – especially when faced with great external turmoil and uncertainty.
The Strategy Bookis organised into six parts. The first five tackle the really important challenges that a leader of any team of any size will face in creating strategy and making that strategy work. Each part is subdivided into specific action topics. You can dip in and out of each section as you feel relevant. The book has been written clearly so you, or your clients or students, can benefit from my experience as a strategist whether the reader is a novice or expert. The sixth part is the strategist toolkit. It contains nearly 30 hand-picked tools and models explained in very precise, practical and efficient terms.
So far it’s being used in several different ways: in business schools to supplement the standard text books; with executive teams to improve the strategy process; on leadership development programmes to raise the level of understanding and keep a shared strategy language between colleagues. It’s also being used to reinvigorate the idea of strategy as a way of winning, protecting and growing the business.
What role does strategy play in your professional life?
Apart from my research, and writing, my time is spent in two main ways: First with large groups, hundreds or more, making strategy come alive in an entertaining, memorable and thought-provoking way. This is not strategy as an academic subject. This is strategic thinking applied in imaginative ways to the real world problems and opportunities of the whole business. It’s a holistic approach that blends threads from inside the company with trends and events outside the company.
Second, I spend time working with executive teams, and boards of directors, acting as a strategic coach and facilitator. The role here is to ask demanding questions, get the most out of the team dynamic, reveal parts of the big picture that have not been noticed, and help leaders with powerful, effective strategic thinking. We shape the future together.
Businesses have to grow to survive and compete in domestic and international markets even during economic downturns. There is always a need to plan for future growth and Enterprise Growth Strategy presents the total process of a growth strategy.
The book describes mechanisms by which businesses can gain market share; develop, modify, or upgrade products; acquire new or expand existing businesses; transform resources to increase revenue and profitability; reduce cycle time; and empower business associates. Quality concepts – market growth, financial and core competency – are outlined and a variety of growth strategy tools presented, and case studies are presented.
The Author: Dr. Dhirendra Kumar is senior extension engineer at North Carolina State University in the USA. He has worked as an engineer, technical adviser and programme manager for Outboard Marine, John Deere, Pratt and Whitney, and Pitney Bowes. Since turning to academia, he has taught almost every aspect of business and management – the ‘growth strategy’ concept he has developed is comprehensive and manifestly practical.
SPS members can get a 25% discount on this and all other Gower management titles. Please visit our member discount page for the required discount code.
Charting developments once envisaged by Keynes, Chase, Galbraith and Packard, and more recent radical thinkers such as Chris Anderson, Philip Sadler’s latest book explains how and why many goods and services have moved from relative scarcity to relative abundance, and asks how this trend can be reconciled with the global issues of population growth and climate change.
The impact of new technologies, new energy sources, new materials and the development of artificial intelligence is assessed. The challenges ahead – such as creation of new business models, the need to meet expectations of improved living conditions while avoiding environmental catastrophe, and the need to adapt ideas developed in scarcity to conditions of abundance – are discussed.
Sadler argues that the relief of global poverty cannot rely on aid and corporate philanthropy. He explores the idea of re-engineering products and delivering them into bottom-of-the-pyramid (BOP) markets, and concludes that the more global companies take this route, as some are already doing, the more profitable they will find it. Of course, this will help the poorest, who often pay more for goods and services than the rich.
The Author: Philip Sadler joined Ashridge Business School as Director of Research and subsequently became Chief Executive, a position he held for 20 years. He is now a life Vice-President of the College. Philip’s practical experience in the business world has been gained through non-executive directorships in printing, banking, healthcare, consultancy, and engineering.
Sadler is an honorary senior fellow and patron of the think tank Tomorrow’s Company and in 1986 he was appointed CBE for services to management education. He has authored more than 10 books on management topics.
Discounts: can get a 25% discount on this and all other Gower management titles. Please visit our member discount page for the required discount code. Non-members who join SPS before 1 April can get this book, which has a recommended retail price of £65, FREE.
(the primary nominee will receive the book in the case of Corporate or Discounted Corporate membership)
Following careers in the military and in industry, Robert Grattan has devoted himself to the subject of strategy and its related theory through his research into the strategy implementation employed by business, governments and the military. Strategy process is widely studied and taught but, Grattan argues, comprehensive prescriptive theories have yet to be developed.
The book is based on analysis of the strategic defence review (SDR) conducted by the UK Ministry of Defence, the methodology for which has been employed in other countries. The study focuses on how the review was managed through the twin lenses of strategic business management theory and the ‘Essence of Decision’ theory of governmental decision-making closely associated with the John F. Kennedy School of Government in the USA.
The author’s interviews with the leading figures in Government, the Civil Service and the Military who participated in the SDR process offer a unique insight, as does the access to information in Ministry of Defence files gained under Freedom of Information legislation.
Strategic Review is thus a book that provides vivid insights into what happened in a large complex organisation during a major strategic review and highlights the problems likely to be encountered during the process of formulating strategy in business, in government, in sport and any other human endeavour. It will appeal to those intrigued by the similarities between the issues facing business and military strategists; to those involved in public policy-making; to the defence community; and to academics and higher level students with an interest in this rich field of study.
The Author: Robert Grattan was an officer in the Royal Air Force for 30 years, retiring in the rank of Group Captain. He subsequently held senior management posts in industry and worked as a consultant.
Having obtained a BA degree with the Open University in the UK and an MSc. in Business Administration from the University of Bath, Robert earned his PhD at the University of the West of England for his comparative study of the strategy process, embracing military and business. The study was published in 2002 by Palgrave-Macmillan.
Dr. Grattan has lectured in the School of Strategy and International Business at UWE and is now a Visiting Research Fellow there and a Visiting Teaching Fellow at the University of Ballarat, in Australia. He has written two books and authored a number of journal articles and conference papers and is a member of the review panels of the Journal of Management History and the Journal of International Business and Entrepreneurship Development.
SPS members can get a 25% discount on this and all other Gower management titles. Please visit our member discount page for the required discount code.
SPS will be offering members a special deal on a different strategy-related book every month. This month, a special discount code found in our discounts section allows members a 25% discount on the fascinating new book Hoshin Kanri: the Strategic Approach to Continuous Improvement.
David Hutchins finds that the results of the quality revolution have been mixed. Global competition has elevated the most successful companies, in terms of providing goods and services, but even then initiatives such as total quality, business process re-engineering and Six Sigma have been heralded as the solution, only to have been replaced with the next ‘big thing’. Hoshin Kanri is not the next big thing in quality, he argues, but rather a strategic approach to continuous improvement that provides a context for all of the individual elements such as Six Sigma or Lean Manufacturing.
Hoshin Kanri explains how to develop a dynamic vision for continuous improvement; to implement effective policies to support it; to link key performance indicators to Six Sigma, Lean Manufacturing and Kaizen; and to sustain a strategy-led programme for improving business performance.
Hutchins himself has over 40 years of continuous experience in all aspects of the quality-related sciences on a worldwide basis. He has a Masters Degree in Quality and Reliability, is a Chartered Mechanical and Electrical Engineer, Chartered Quality Professional, Fellow of the Chartered Quality Institute (CQI), a John Loxham Lecturer and author of several books and many articles. In David’s early career he was Chief Production/Industrial Engineer in the Automotive Components Industry before becoming Works Manager followed by 10 years teaching and consulting in Business Management prior to founding David Hutchins International and its International Quality College.
Dr. Vineeta Kamran, Principal, City Montessori School & College, Lucknow, India, called the book “very enriching and all comprehensive”, saying it is: “a rare masterpiece and one of the best books I have ever read pertaining to this area of interest.”