Strategy for You: A book review by Bob Morris

Strategy for You: Building a Bridge to the Life You Want
Rich Horwath
Greenleaf Book Group Press (2012)

If you have a dream, Rich Horwath can help you to make it come true.

There are business situations in which the goal is to ascend (e.g. to reach a higher level of productivity, efficiency, profitability) and other situations in which the goal is to descend (e.g. to drill down past symptoms to the root causes of a problem) and successfully achieving either goal depends almost entirely on one’s attitude. Long ago, Henry Ford observed, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.” Attitude is even more decisive when there are severe challenges to overcome. Years later, Jack Dempsey had this in mind when explaining that “champions get up when they can’t.”

I mention all this because, in an earlier book, Deep Dive, Rich Horvath makes brilliant use of extended metaphors for both ascension and descent. He provides a cohesive, comprehensive, and cost-effective program by which to prepare to achieve success at either great heights or great depths. More specifically, he explains the four types of strategic thinkers, the strategic thinking assessment, and the three disciplines of strategic thinking

Note: It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of an appropriate strategy. I presume to suggest that you think of a strategy as a “hammer” that drives “nails,” or tactics. It guide and informs initiatives to achieve the given goal or objective.

In his latest book, Howath again invokes an extended metaphor – bridge building – while suggesting that a sound strategy resembles a bridge in some respect as it enables people to make effective use of their resources – time, talent, and money – to achieve their goals. So, strategies can drive organizational as well as individual initiatives but they can also facilitate connections and eliminate barriers to those initiatives.

As I began to read this book, I was again reminded of the title of one of Marshall Goldsmith’s most valuable books, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. In fact, given the pace and tumult of the business world now, what gets anyone here won’t let them remain “here,” wherever and whatever that may be.

Horwath stresses the importance of dreams while agreeing with Thomas Edison that “vision without execution is hallucination.” That is why he provides and then thoroughly explains a five-step process to a better life, whatever and wherever “there” may be. Here’s the process: (1) select a location for the bridge, (2) identify its unique design features that will differentiate it, (3) obtain the most appropriate building materials, (4) build the “bridge,” and then (5) cross it and proceed to the given destination, the desired life.

These are among the passages of greatest interest and value to me, listed with the hope they give at least come indication of the range of subjects that Howath discusses:

o Strategy as a Bridge (Pages 2-4)
o The GOST Framework (22-27)
o The Bridge Not Taken (61-63)
o Investing in Your Bridge (71-75)
o Focus to Succeed (79-82)
o Not-to-Do List (82-84)
o Five SWOT Traps (98-101)
o A blueprint for Your Life (104-108)
o The Discipline to Prepare (115-117)
o Strategy Conversations (117-120)

I commend Horwath on his brilliant use of various reader-friendly devises such as “Bridge in Progress” sections that feature a story from a real person involved in a real-world situation relevant to the given chapter’s material, “ end-of-chapter Bridgework Ahead” sections that assist completion of exercises, and a “Construction Summary” that reviews key points. These devices will facilitate, indeed accelerate frequent review of key material later.

As I re-read this book while formulating questions for my second interview of Rich Horwath, I was again reminded of my maternal grandparents who left their homes in Sweden and, separately, arrived in America and proceeded to Chicago work as indentured servants for a wealthy family. It was there that they met and, over time, earned enough to repay their sponsors for the relocation costs, then married and started a family. Edith Johnson was a cook and housekeeper; Axel Johnson was a handyman and chauffeur. Millions of others – before and since my grandparents did — came to the United States in search of a better life. Their dream and a sound strategy helped them to build a bridge and then cross it.

Do you have a dream and also need a “bridge” to help make it come true? Look no further than this book and its author. They will accompany you every step of the way.

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