Business Strategy: A book review by Bob Morris

Posted on: June 23rd, 2014 by bobmorris

Business StrategyBusiness Strategy: Plan, Execute, Win
Patrick J. Stroh
John Wiley & Sons (2014)

How to formulate and then execute strategies that will help you achieve your objectives at work and everywhere else

Just as in residential real estate, for every house there is a buyer, I am convinced that for every business book, there is also a buyer and I think there are many people who will benefit substantially from the approach that Patrick Stroh takes to the content he provides. The last time I checked, Amazon offers 73, 377 books that cover one or more aspects of business strategy; 16,462 of them are classified within the “Management” category. Obviously, there is no shortage of information, insights, and counsel concerning strategy, both online and in print. Fortunately, Customer Reviews such as mine can help those who read them to decide which source(s) will most likely be most relevant to the given needs and interests.

As I began to read this book, I was again reminded of Michael Porter’s observation, “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.” I agree with Porter as well as with Stroh: “Creating a strategy that you in turn drive into actionable plans and goals with associated metrics is invaluable. Execution is everything. Great executors of business strategy create conditions in which people”:

o Know what to do because accountabilities are clear.
o Know how to do it because they have the right skills.
o Are motivated to do it because they see how they are adding value to the organization.
o Have defined metrics by which to measure the nature and extent of impact.

I view strategies as “hammers” that drive “nails” (tactics) to achieve the given objectives. Stroh’s approach is to focus on the essentials of that process. These are among the passages that caught my eye:

o Evolution of Strategic Planning (Pages 6-13)
o Desirable skills and core competencies (37-42)
o Gordon Ramsey’s Hell’s Kitchen (57-62)
o Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares (62-69)
o 21 Movies: Six Lessons on Business Strategy (74-88)
o Being the Boss (93-96)
o Five Themes of Business Parables from the Bible (109-123)
o Typical Questions the Sharks Ask All Presenters (126-132)
o 13 Lucky Models and Methods (142-153)
o Potential failures to be avoided (158-160)

I presume to add that the original meaning of the word “strategia” means “generalship,” hence the importance of the material provided in Sun Tzu’s The Art of War and Carl von Clausewitz’s On War. Hunt for Red October (1990) is one of the films on Stroh’s list in Chapter 4 and it is also on my own list of war films that illustrate valuable leadership lessons. Others on that list include Fort Apache (1948), Paths of Glory and Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), Tunes of Glory (1960), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), and 12 O’clock High (1964).

In only 166 pages, Patrick Stroh manages to provide an abundance of valuable information, insights, and counsel that will probably be of greatest interest to those now preparing for a career in business or have only recently embarked on one. That said, effective leadership and management are needed at all levels and in all areas of any enterprise, whatever its size and nature may be. For that reason, I strongly recommend this little book of great substance to anyone who is determined to accelerate their personal growth and professional development.

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