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Old wine in a new bottle
on 28 May 2015
I had high hopes of this book as I was interested to find out how the author could justify the argument of how the old ways of strategic planning were wrong and that she had a new playbook for dealing with a world of continuous change.
I was left disappointed.
Initially I was reminded of Richard D'Aveni's very good book, Hypercompetition but where that had substance, this doesn't. Next up was Peter Senge and The Learning Organisation. Then I found myself reminded of Hamel and Prahalad's work on strategic intent and core competences and the importance of partnering to bring together best-in-class resources and capabilities.
One of the big ideas is that firms need to be better at managing across the life cycle of initial introduction, growth, maturity and decline but isn't that what the Growth-Share Matrix considered, albeit superficially?
This seems to have become a rehash of the idea that success paves the way for failure through management complacency and hubris. Old techniques like the Five Forces model and PEST analysis won't work if they are not done with insight and imagination. Was the decline of the old Blackberries obvious when the technologies that allowed the iPhone and the Android smartphones to be developed? I'd have said it was but the company was reluctant to challenge its existing products when they were still market leaders? Should Kodak have recognised the threat of the technology that created digital photography? Again yes.
I expected new ideas but I found myself on a tour of existing strategic ideas dressed up with updated anecdotes. Anyway how sustainable were old style sustainable competitive advantages. I don't remember anyone telling me they'd last forever or that competitors wouldn't attack and innovate or that customer needs wouldn't change.
I expected far more. I recommend "Your Strategy Needs A Strategy" by Martin Reeves et al which sets up a three dimensional framework for helping you to understand where classical strategy or more adaptive styles are necessary. With that framework in mind, this book may make much more sense once you narrow down the situations where its messages apply. Unfortunately I read the books in the wrong order.
About my book reviews - I aim to be a tough but fair reviewer because the main cost of a book is not the money to buy it but the time needed to read it and absorb it. A two star review indicates that I'm very disappointed and I believe the book should have been much better to deserve your attention.
Paul Simister, business coach