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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The essential guide to senior management's biggest challenge
When senior managers and executives discuss strategy, the results are often unhelpful or unenlightening. This is bad enough in a single company, but in a merger or formal partnership it can quickly result in energy sapping discussions which lead nowhere.
One of the main reasons is that there are so many deeply held views of what strategy is.
If you are a senior...
Published on 25 Feb. 2003 by Martin Turner

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as expected
I bought this books as I had read Henry Mintzberg's book Managers not MBAs" and liked his style a lot. In this book the authors try to present an overview and critique all the different schools of Strategy classified into 10 different schools. I did not find the book too insightful - for example I did not find the distinction between the so called design school and...
Published on 26 Aug. 2011 by Ravikumar Cherubala


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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The essential guide to senior management's biggest challenge, 25 Feb. 2003
By 
Martin Turner "Martin Turner" (Marlcliff, Warwickshire, England) - See all my reviews
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When senior managers and executives discuss strategy, the results are often unhelpful or unenlightening. This is bad enough in a single company, but in a merger or formal partnership it can quickly result in energy sapping discussions which lead nowhere.
One of the main reasons is that there are so many deeply held views of what strategy is.
If you are a senior manager and have ever faced such a situation, then this book should be at the top of your list.
Authoritative but entertaining, it overviews and critiques the ten schools of strategic thinking which are common in the business world today. Read once through quickly, it will open your eyes to the key thoughts and terminology which characterise each school - in turn explaining why otherwise flexible colleagues can become intransigent over the meaning of a single word.
A more careful rereading will enable you to gain an overview of how different kinds of strategy relate to each other, when one school is preferable to another, and the pitfalls of following any one school slavishly.
At a further level, this book carefully refers by page number to the key texts in each of the schools. It therefore becomes an extended bibliographic study guide to a much deeper immersion in underlying theory.
Mintzberg and his co-authors have worked very hard to keep this text lucid and relatively short. It is nonetheless detailed and rewarding. If you are not sure about this book, there is a summary paper in the FT's Mastering Strategy, which should help to make up your mind.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MBA in a volume, 9 Aug. 2002
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Andy Millward (Tiptree, Essex, UK) - See all my reviews
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If like me you are doing your MBA, this is one of two essential books (the other being the book of MBA models.) This is a potted history of strategic thinking, not sufficient on its own to develop your dissertation according to one school of thought, but an excellent starter for ten and a superb context in which to place the evolution of corporate strategy.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Invaluable Guide to Employing Strategic Management Themes, 7 Sept. 2004
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 127,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
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This is the most valuable book ever written on strategic management. Be sure to read and apply its lessons well!
I have worked in the field of strategic management since before it was called that, both as a practitioner and as a consultant. One of my favorite complaints about books in the field is that they emphasize one facet of developing and implementing stratgies and ignore the others. This book is the outstanding exception to that problemmatic standard of tunnel vision. There's no stalled thinking here about strategic management.
If you are like me, you would like to get better results from strategic management. Solving one part of the task and ignoring the others leads to failure just as surely as ignoring strategic managment does. Imbalance in perspective can be equally dangerous. As the authors point out, " . . . The greatest failings of strategic management have occurred when managers took one point of view too seriously."
Mintzberg, Ahlstrand, and Lampel start out by pointing out that there are five different kinds of strategy definitions (as plan, pattern, perspective, position, and ploy). When you read books about strategy, keep these in mind.
They begin with the tale of the six blind men and the elephant. Each can grasp one element of the elephant, but cannot grasp the whole. That's the situation the authors are warning you against.
They define this work as "a field review not a literature review" so you don't find every book's details. Whew! That's a relief. On the other hand, they are clearly familiar with the literature and cite it where appropriate. The book is designed for managers, consultants, professors and students. The style is also designed to be easily accessible. And these goals are well achieved in my view.
Although recognizing that the human mind boggles past 7 items (which seems to be the limit of what short-term memory can retain), they found 10 themes in the field. The first three emphasize traditional left-brained thinking of the sort that dominates in business schools: Design, Planning, and Positioning. The next six are other aspects of strategic management that are more right-brained: Entrepreneurial, Cognitive, Learning, Power, Cultural, and Environmental. The final one is focused on transformation, the school of Configuration. Each one receives its own chapter and its weaknesses are displayed.
In chapter 12, the reader is encouraged to synthesize the 10 themes into integrated use. There is a table (12.1) that neatly summarizes each theme, a figure (12.2) that shows how they are mutually related, and a remarkably useful figure (12.3) that effectively shows how they can be integrated from perspective and in sequencing.
You may be wondering what all of the fuss is about. Basically, strategic management is one of those fields that has yet to emerge with an integrated perspective on the firm. In fact, the problem is poorly perceived because most people are unaware of the areas they are ignoring. In fact, I always create syntheses of these areas in my writing and am often criticized for dealing with subjectively perceived nonissues that the readers do not see the importance of. Strategic myopia seems to be a common problem, not just among the scholars.
I feel very indebted to the authors for developing such a wonderful overview that I can recommend to others (including my clients). I also appreciate their clarifying that the important question now for strategic management is creating a useful synthesis. My personal view is that this must be done by creating one simple, effective mindset that encompasses all ten perspectives, without requiring anyone to learn each one directly.
I strongly urge you to read and apply the lessons in this seminal work on strategic management. I also hope you will find your own novel integrations of these perspectives and share them.
Good luck in expanding your perceptions of strategic management and its potential to help you and your organization succeed!
After you have finished this book, ask yourself which of the perspectives are missing from or underrepresented today in your organization. Then begin to think of ways to add those perspectives.
If you would like to learn more about strategy, you should also read Mintzburg's outstanding book, The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning, which I have also reviewed.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Strategic schools summed up in one easy, slim volume, 22 April 2002
By A Customer
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I admit that I started reading this as a fan of Mintzberg's easy to read and sometimes funny style. As a business school student, the schools of strategy were not hanging together for me. One text would present a number of broad schools, another would sub-divide them, and of course they would both call some of them by different names. This book starts by introducing the different schools and how they came about, then discusses each in turn, then (hallelujah!) provides a really clear table at the back of the book showing how they differ. It has made my studies easier, though I admit to bias and being a fan to start with.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Out-of-the box-strategy ...one size does NOT fit all !!!, 3 Oct. 2001
By A Customer
This is possibly the best strategy book I have ever read. If you think the only way to develop business strategy is to get loads of data, put it into matrices and analyse it, yet you are left wondering why the method doesnt 'quite fit', this book is for you.
Describing and contrasting a number of strategy 'schools', the book talks about how different approaches can legitimately be used in different businesses. The book has given me such a new way of looking at strategy that I dont really want to tell you about it at all!!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ambitious overview on Corporate Strategy, 27 Dec. 2003
Mintzberg is one of the pioneers of corporate strategy and has a pragmatic view on the subject. Having devoted a couple of decades on researching the subject, few persons could be better equipped to provide an overview of the subject than he.
The book contains a meta level presentation of the different schools of corporate strategy in an accessible and inspiring way. It also points out the strengths and weaknesses of each school.
After having read the book you will be in a better position to put corporate strategies you run into in perspective and know what the strength/weaknesses are for the chosen school of strategy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Start your strategy safari with this book!, 4 Jun. 2002
When I bought a copy of Strategy Safari, I had been studying strategic management at the university for almost a year. I found the subject hard to comprehend, however the book, like a jigsaw, helped me bring all the disconnected fragments of knowledge together.
In this book Mintzberg, Ahlstrand and Lampel review various schools of strategy and then offer their own view of the strategy-making process. The book maintains a good balance between describing strategy theories as well as giving examples of how these theories can and are applied in practice.
The book is well-illustrated, which makes for pleasant and quick reading. In fact, it only took 3 days to read Strategy Safari. Perhaps this could serve as a criticism of the book (one of few) - amid all the illustrations there is not as much content as one wishes there to be.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ultimate book on strategy, 7 Mar. 2000
By A Customer
Mintzberg et al. are able to capture 40 years of intensive research on strategic management. This is no mean feat. They describe and appraise the ten most influentials schools of strategic management as they see them. Sometimes scientific rigour is traded for heuristic value but this makes the book not one bit less brilliant. It is written by the most important writer on strategy and organisational issues and therefore a goldmine of information. After reading the book even a total beginner to strategy will see the big picture and the details. Only Henry Mintzberg is able to do this. Definitely the best book on strategy ever written. I scrapped my own lecture on strategy in favour of this book. Go and get it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't judge a book by its binding, 22 Sept. 1999
Great book. I've spent two weeks wading through ghastly tomes about strategy and at last here is a book that makes sense of it all and gives me some ideas that might be of some practical use. Unfortunately though, the book was bound so badly that the pages fell out as I read them - a poor publishing strategy if ever there was one.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended to MBA students., 10 July 2001
By A Customer
Loadsa theory. Well written, concise, objective, and additionally gives a critique of each school of strategic thought. Useful for pointers to other authors of interest - in fact it could save some poor student money thanks to its excellent referencing!
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Strategy Safari: The Complete Guide Through the Wilds of Strategic Management
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