Strategic Analytics: A book review by Bob Morris

Strategic AnalyticsStrategic Analytics: Advancing Strategy Execution and Organizational Effectiveness
Alec Levenson
Berrett-Koehler Publishers (November 2015)

Here is “a comprehensive road map for starting and completing a cultural transformation.”

C-level executives face a number of challenges and one of the most important is formulating both an appropriate strategy and then the analytics that help to achieve the given strategic objectives.

According to Alec Levenson, “The purpose of this book is to help decision makers at all organizational levels, in both the business and HR, use analytics more effectively to achieve their goals. The framework and advice will help you break out of the traditional mode of uncoordinated analytics and decision making. Applying the tools and lessons provided here should lead to both improved execution of your strategy and increased effectiveness of your organization – if you have the determination and perseverance to apply a plan consistent with this approach and stick with it.”

Of course, that is a HUGE “if,” hence the importance of having a compelling vision that helps to maximize buy-in because, as Thomas Edison correctly reminds us, “vision without execution is hallucination.”

These are among the several dozen passages of greatest interest and value to me, also listed to suggest the scope of Levenson’s coverage in Parts 1-2:

o Strategic Analytics Diagnostic: Three Steps (Page xxiii)
o The problem of ROI as a business tool (16-21)
o Other common measurements that falls short of what Strategic Analytics can do (21-26)
o Do enterprise analytics first to surface structural issues (31-34)
o How does all this relate to balanced scorecards? (34-38)
o When to apply statistics for testing the model (46-48)
o Strategic Analytics: competitive advantage (51-62)
o Articulate Your Organizational Strengths and Weaknesses (54-56)
o The Competing Sources of Competitive Advantage (60)
o Organization Design Analytics (67-71)
o Organizational Capability Analytics (73-81)
o Culture and Group Analytics (82-86)
o Job Design Analytics (91-95)
o Individual Capability Analytics (95-98)
o Analyses Primarily at the Enterprise Level (108-113)
o Analyses at Both the Enterprise and Human Capital Levels (118-126)
o Customer retention and profitable growth for technology companies (132-135)
o Customer retention and profitable growth for retail sales companies (135-138)
o Designing GTM (go-to-market) systems for technical excellence versus cross-functional effectiveness (140-141)
o Minimizing labor costs while maintaining capability (143)
o Maximizing capacity utilization and distribution system efficiency (144-146)

Levenson makes excellent use of several reader-friendly devices that include “Issues Addressed in This Chapter” and “Key Questions” sections that guide and direct a careful reading of the material. Also, boxed micro-commentaries; “Figures”; case studies; real-world examples (e.g. Apple’s competitive advantage, Boeing’s 787, CostCo’s member retention initiatives, Frito-Lay’s route sales maximization, and Google’s innovation); and a “Summary” at the end of each chapter. These devices help to facilitate, indeed expedite frequent review of key material later.

Obviously, no brief commentary such as mine could possibly do full justice to the value of the information, insights, and counsel that Alec Levenson provides. However, I hope that I have at least indicated why I think so highly of his work. Let’s give him the final word: “Changing culture is difficult, but do able. The Strategic Analytics diagnostic can provide a comprehensive road map for starting and completing a cultural transformation.”

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