I honestly think this book is a game-changer. It should be a must-read for any business leader who wants to lead a successful organization. Of course you will have to read the book to find out if you agree, but I wager that you will find enough value in the book not to disagree. But let me give you some idea of why I feel so strongly about this book.
The book stems from the authors’ realization that, “Leaders have less control over the destiny of their business than they think they do or would like to have.” The high proportion of unsuccessful change efforts support this premise and the position that, leaders’ “strategies and policies rarely change the course of the organization to the extent they had hoped.” You and I would likely readily agree on that, even without the example of Blockbuster and other cases studies, including unsuccessful mergers and acquisitions, described throughout the book. The authors attribute this to organizational leaders not being cognizant of the context in which their strategies are being executed. Thus they hypothesize that all organizations are on a trajectory towards a “default future”: the place where they will end up if they fail to change their currently planned course of action. This hardly sounds new or ground-breaking, but the idea that “organizations are on a given trajectory for a reason” is, and it is the dive into this that makes the book so thought-provoking, useful and constructive.
As the authors themselves say, you learn from doing, not reading; but hopefully this book will whet your appetite enough to acquire the book to imbibe and absorb its principles fully so you can experiment, hone and effect strategy successfully. The book is well written and although it covers what might have been a very dry subject, it is not a difficult read. It also helps, by incorporating a brief summary at the end of each chapter, but adds further value, by similarly including a “Five questions for reflection” box that will help you “operationalize” the points of the chapter in your own organization.
"Operationalize" is a key word to denote a key concept. There is little doubt that strategy is currently not being well developed or implemented, and this book brings new insight into why this is so,by challenging the traditional dichotomy between strategy planning and strategy implementation. Instead it talks about "strategic intent" and "strategy operationalization" and the need to consider the latter in depth if you want your strategy to take full effect and deliver what you intend. In other words, you cannot just set a strategy and expect others to carry it out because you said they were to, The authors depict the former as “pushing” and the latter as “pulling” the strategy and identify 8 conditions that are almost always critical to operationalizing strategy. In addition they also point out that you cannot do this without "collective leadership." This is not “consensus management”: key is collective rather than individual accountability and they identify 7 operational principles of collective leadership,
As I said, plenty to think about even in this brief summary of the book. Hopefully it explains why I think this is a must read book for anyone and everyone responsible for organizational strategy, as well as anyone who is involved in organizational change.