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Customer Review

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Concentrating Resources, 26 April 2006
This review is from: Must-Win Battles: Creating the Focus You Need to Achieve Your Key Business Goals (Financial Times Series) (Hardcover)
Must-Win Battles explains that hoary strategic discipline: The top management meeting where a new direction is sent and then subsequently implemented. If you have never been through a good version of this process, Must-Win Battles will give you helpful templates for what to do . . . and what to be prepared for.

The steps are broken down into a logical sequence: First you prepare (understand where your organization is now and appreciate how to lead such a process); then you engage with the rest of top management (open up their minds to gain a fuller view, focus on the 3-5 accomplishments that are most important, and gain a one-organization perspective); and finally you spread this out across the organization (sharing what you learned during the top management meeting, describing the new agenda, reporting on progress and celebrating victories).

This process orientation is relieved by a hypothetical case study that gives the book a slight flair like a fable would provide.

To me, however, the case study in chapter 8 from Unilever's ice cream unit in Europe was far more helpful.

The book has three main weaknesses. First, the perspective is primarily that of someone facilitating a process (an outsider like a professor or consultant). Second, the book would have benefited from a lot more case studies and examples. I got pretty tired of the same one. Since it was hypothetical, I couldn't get too engaged in it. Third, the authors don't do much to connect the dots between their process and the excellent work of The Balanced Scorecard Collaborative (and the superb books, Strategy Maps, The Balanced Scorecard, Alignment and The Strategy-Focused Organization).

But the book has a redeeming quality. The authors do a fine job of making the case for how to focus on just a few issues. In my experience with facilitating dozens of such sessions like they describe in this book, most management teams want to have lists of hundred of things to do. It's hard to get them to focus . . . and you run the risk of annoying people if you push too hard on that point. By distributing this book in advance of such programs, many consultants and facilitators will find their clients being more cooperative.

Nice work!
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Donald Mitchell
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