The Mind of the Strategist
by Kenichi Ohmae
“The Definitive Guide to True Strategic Planning”
First published in Japan in 1975, The Mind of the Strategist is a timeless collection of insights on strategic planning. Do not confuse true strategic planning the misguided planning exercises practiced in most corporations today, but planning based on the singular goal of beating the competition to please the customer. With a clarity exceeding contemporary thought leaders, Kenichi Ohmae shares the mechanics behind good strategic thinking – taking insights, information, trends, events, situations, and conditions and rearranging them to deliver a relative advantage. This leads to what I believe is the most profound statement in the book “The sole purpose of strategic planning is to enable a company to gain, as efficiently as possible, a sustainable edge over its competitors.” To obtain a foundational understanding of strategic planning, there is no better book available today in my opinion.
The One Minute Manager
by Ken Blanchard & Spencer Johnson
“Essential Reading for Managers at all Levels”
Despite being published in 1981, this 100 page book (or thereabouts) is essential reading for every manager – especially those interested in developing not only productive, but also happy employees. And those goals are not mutually exclusive as the authors point out early. Perhaps my favorite quote in the whole book – “People who feel good about themselves – Produce good results.”
What I appreciate about The One Minute Manager is its emphasis on simplicity. For goal setting, the authors recommend a single page with less than 250 words be the basis of agreement on an employee’s goals. Once the goals are set, the employee is rewarded with praise when they are caught doing something right, or when they underperform, they receive a short, immediate reprimand. The key to happy and productive employees is crisp and immediate communication, a universal truth conveyed throughout this short book.
Reengineering the Corporation
by Michael Hammer & James Champy
“The Book that Started the Process Improvement Revolution!”
This book pioneered the idea of reengineering – a radical approach to tossing away the old, antiquated ways of performing work and completely redesigning processes to build a better, more efficient organization. And thus was launched a process revolution. This book is a good, short read – full of stories of success. And for this it was judged to be one of the most influential books of all times.
That said, this book is not a prescription for change. It lacks details or the framework of a methodology and those practitioners trying to implement the concepts presented in the book will find themselves on a challenging course. But if you are looking for an understanding of process and how powerful a tactic it can be to improve a process, look no further.
Good Strategy Bad Strategy
by Richard P. Rumelt
“For those curious why Strategic Planning Processes produce such junk today!”
In a time when many strategic planning exercises end with a list of disconnected objectives, Richard Rumelt sets the record straight on what is good strategy and what is bad. As he states in the book, strategy is not leadership, vision, planning, or the economic logic of competition. In other words, it’s not the fluff prevalent in executive suites today. Strategy is discovering the critical factors in a situation and designing a way of coordinating and focusing actions to deal with those factors. Rumelt delivers his message through a series of cases from Lord Nelson’s victory over the French and Spanish fleets in 1805 to Howard Schultz’s more recent evolution of Starbucks – all entertaining and largely instructive. My sole criticism of the book is the lack of an action plan for creating good strategy – but I guess that is why you take his course at UCLA. For the manager, vice president, or consultant seeking a solid base understanding of how to discern good strategy from bad strategy, this is the perfect book.