0) OVERALL STRATEGY
“FT Guide to Strategy” by Richard Koch
Great introduction to business unit strategy – the first half of the book shows you how to be your own consultant. Also good as a source-book covering frameworks, strategy gurus and strategic terminology.
“Good to Great” by Jim Collins
One of the most accessible books on strategy ever written, by a master story-teller. Everyone should find some idea to provike them in this book. One of the best books for line managers to read to bring them into strategic discussion.
1) CRAFTING STRATEGY
“The Art of War” by Sun Tzu
Still the classic text on military strategy. There are many attempts by authors to translate it to the business world. My advice is – read the direct translation and try to apply it for yourself!
“Competitive Advantage” by Michael Porter
Follow-on book to Competitive Strategy, focusing more on the individual business than the industry. Introduced the internal value chain. First chapter is a summary of Competitive Strategy, so read this if you can’t afford both!
“Competitive Strategy” by Michael Porter
Porter’s original ground-breaking book that focused on the industry as the unit of analysis. The ideas were so powerful at the time that they are now taken for granted – perhaps the ultimate compliment.
“Competitive Advantage of Nations” by Michael Porter
Porter applies his competitive advantage theory to countries. Read if you have an interest in macro-economics and how a country thrives in a globalising world.
“Crossing the Chasm” by Geoffrey Moore
Essential reading for high-tech start-ups; merely fascinating for the rest of us. Geoffrey Moore describes the lifecycle of markets – who buys first, who buys last and why do so many start-ups fail after a promising start?
“Dealing with Darwin” by Geoffrey Moore
Geoffrey Moore produces a book that is relevent way beyond his high tech heartland. It classifies over 20 different types of innovation – what is most relevent for your company? His Core/Context concept would justify a book on its own.
“The Innovators Dilemma” by Clayton Christensen
Why do good managers get blindsided by innovation? Clayton Christensen shows how companies become victim to their own success – so focused on their existing customers that they miss disruptive shifts in the nature of competition.
“The Innovators Solution” by Clayton Christiansen
OK, so I know from “The Innovators Dilemma” that I can get blindsided even if I focus on doing the right thing. How can I solve this dilemma? Clayton Christensen rides to the rescue. First chapter summarises the theory from the previous book.
“Blue Ocean Strategy” by Chan Kim & Renee Mauborgne
Simple concept, explained in a very entertaining read. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne show how compenies can sidestep head-tohead competition to find explosive growth.
Strategic Analysis and Planning
“The Halo Effect” by Phil Rosenzweig
Phil Rosenzweig lays into so-called “fact-based” management research, explaining why attempts to find the magic formula for success are all statistically unreliable. Useful for the next time you are arguing with someone stuff to the gills with “facts”. His conclusion is the only possible answer, even if it is a little anti-climactic. “Think for yourself”.
“The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning” by Henry Mintzberg
Henry Mintzberg lays into the flaws in the staff-driven plan-intensive field of strategy. It goes well beyond that into exploring management thinking patterns too.
“The Mind of the Strategist” by Kenichi Ohmae
Showing its age now that the “Japanese Miracle” has proved as fallible as every other countries boom. Nevertheless, Kenichi Ohmae is one of the best strategic thinkers in the world and there are many interesting concepts in his book.
2) ORGANISATIONAL ARCHITECTURE
“Leading the Revolution” by Gary Hamel
Gary Hamel leads a breathless charge for innovation in business models. Very stimulating – packed full of ideas. In order to be provocative, he goes over-the-top in rhetoric and dispenses with factual support entirely. May be too “far-out” for some!
“Competing for the future” by C.K. Prahalad & Gary Hamel
Classic book where Hamel and Prahalad introduced Strategic Intent and Core Competences. Ideas about how to architect you corporation to shape the future are as relevant today as when book was first published in 1994
“The Fifth Discipline” by Peter Senge
Way ahead of its time, Peter Senge succeeds in a tour-de-force romp that starts with a deep insight into systems thinking, goies into great detail about how to build a learning organisation and ends with a virtual maifesto for work in the 21st Century. A favorite.
“The Character of a Corporation” by Rob Goffee & Gareth Jones
One of the few good books on culture. Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones lay out a framework that characterises organisations into 4 different types, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.
3) EXECUTING STRATEGY
“Execution” by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan
Strong on describing the 3 key management processes of a company (the strategy process, the people process, and the operating/budget process). Describes how they should fit together seamnlessly. Relys a little too heavily on examples from Allied Signal and GE.
“Implementation” by Alan Brache & Sam Bodley-Scott
The “how to implement strategy” book that Execution could have been. A little dry, but a great step-to-step guide on how to turn your strategy into results through Strategic Initiatives.
“Balanced Scorecard” by Robert Kaplan & David Norton
Kaplan and Norton’s breakthrough work, describing how businesses should create a set of metrics a based on a theory of cause and effect in their business. Moves from rear-view mirror financial metrics to leading indicators on customers and organisation development. They have produced several books after this, all variants on the same principles.
5) MULTI-BUSINESS STRATEGY
“Corporate-Level Strategy” by Michael Goold, Andrew Campbell & Marcus Alexander
Not widely-known, perhaps because if understood and implemented, most large modern companies would radically restructure their business unit portfolios. Must read for anyone in a company with multiple business units.
6) LEADERSHIP AND STRATEGY
“Leading Change” by John Kotter
If you only have time to read one book on change, this is it. Kotter steps systematically though the phases of change, with many examples of what works and what doesn’t.
“Influence” by Robert Cialdini
Fascinating book based on psychological reasearch about how people influence each other. Even when you know how, the ways described in this book still work!
7) GENERAL MANAGEMENT
What to say about Peter Drucker? The management philosopher par excellence. A selection of his writings:
“The Practice of Management” by Peter Drucker
“Management Challenges for the 21st Century” by Peter Drucker
“The Essential Drucker” by Peter Drucker
“In Search of Excellence” by Tom Peters and Waterman
The orginal book that focused on the “soft” side of management. Much of it turns out to have been invented by Tom Peters and then examples found to fit, and many of the companies fell from grace soon after. Despite this, it holds gems of wisdom.
“Built to Last” by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras
More in the style of in serach of excellence than his more polished and fact-based “Good to Great”. Collins and Porras invented terms that have become part of the strategic language (Big Hairy Audacious Goals). A great read.
“Pour your heart into it” by Howard Schultz
Essential reading for any budding entrepreneur. It will dispel any doubts about the passion and perseverence it takes to create a business. Even more topical in the light of Schultz’s recent return to rescue his baby.
“Only the Paranoid Survive” by Andy Grove
Andy Grove lead Intel through huge challenges to its current domination. He tells his story, with a clear emphasis on the strategic choices Intel made. Great illustrations of industry “Inflection Points”